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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Kejriwal takes oath as Delhi CM, says there will be no witch-hunt against bureaucrats

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 28, 2013
First Published: 10:54 IST(28/12/2013) | Last Updated: 13:56 IST(5/1/2014)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal sought the help of commoners to root out corruption after he was sworn in as the Delhi chief minister at a packed Ramlila Maidan by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

“Today, every Delhi resident was sworn in as a minister. If we come together, we will be able to defeat corruption,” he said amid a sea of supporters.

Kejriwal, who had at first shot cleared the IIT entrance examination, the UPSC and now, has formed a government, added, “We will give Delhi residents a (phone) number... so that they can lodge complaints against officials taking bribe.”

As Kejriwal, dressed in his trademark navy blue sweater, reiterated his poll promises at Ramlila Maidan, thousands who thronged the venue wearing the AAP’s white cap erupted in a thunderous applause.

The choice of the venue, Ramlila Maidan, was symbolic and a reminder to people that the AAP and Kejriwal were staying the course. An anti-corruption movement by social activist Anna Hazare and Kejriwal launched at this very ground in the heart of Delhi in 2011 had forced Parliament to commit to an anti-corruption watchdog.

The two have fallen out since, but Hazare sent his best wishes to Kejriwal before the swearing-in.

On Saturday, there was no VIP enclosure at Ramlila Maidan, and Kejriwal’s family members and top government functionaries took their seats with commoners.

The entire swearing-in ceremony, which started and ended with the national anthem, was held in just about 15 minutes. After that, Kejriwal addressed the gathering and asked his ministers not to be arrogant while performing their duties.

Later in the day, Kejriwal struck a chord at Rajghat. People felt happy that they were not shooed away by security personnel during the “aam visit of a VIP”.

Political parties congratulated Kejriwal, who faces the challenge to roll back the 10% hike in CNG prices announced on Thursday. Auto drivers in the city, who form a huge section of his supporters, have threatened a strike.

Besides, during campaigning for the December 4 elections, the AAP had promised to slash power tariff by 50% and provide free water supply to households using up to 700litre a day. On Saturday, Kejriwal admitted, “I don't have a magic wand. We can’t solve all problems tomorrow.”

Later in the evening, he said, “By Monday, you will get some news.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Kejriwal and extended his best wishes to the AAP leader, who asked his six ministers sworn in on Saturday not to be arrogant and stick to the party's poll promises.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal took a metro from Kaushambi station around 11:00am to reach Barakhamba. From there, he reached the swearing-in venue in a car. True to his Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) anti-VIP culture, Kejriwal on Monday had turned down ‘Z’ category security. 

Read: Kejriwal's ride to keep his date with destiny from Kaushambi to Ramlila

The choice of the venue, Ramlila Maidan, was symbolic and a reminder to people that the AAP and Kejriwal were staying the course. An anti-corruption movement by social activist Anna Hazare and Kejriwal launched at this very ground in the heart of Delhi in 2011 had forced Parliament to commit to an anti-corruption watchdog. The two have fallen out since, but on Saturday, Hazare sent his best wishes to his protégé.

As Kejriwal reiterated his poll promises at Ramlila Maidan, thousands who thronged the venue wearing the AAP’s white cap, erupted in thunderous applause.

 

 


After the oath-taking ceremony, Kejriwal and the AAP legislators rushed to the Delhi secretariat for their first cabinet meeting. They are expected to work on Sunday as well.

Read: Kejriwal goes back to where it all started Ramlila Maidan

Read: Delhi, know your 'Aam Aadmi' cabinet

The first big challenge for Kejriwal, 45, and his ministers will be to roll back the 10% hike in CNG prices announced on Thursday. Auto drivers in the city, who form a huge section of his supporters, have threatened a strike.

Besides, during campaigning for the December 4 elections, the AAP had promised to slash power tariff by 50% and provide free water supply to households using up to 700litre a day. The promises, experts believe, will not be easy to meet. On Saturday, Kejriwal admitted, “I don't have a magic wand. We can’t solve all problems tomorrow.”

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal took a Metro train from Kaushambi proceed to Ramlila Maidan for his oath-taking ceremony. (Sakib Ali/ HT photo)

The future of AAP’s minority government, however, depends on how it delivers. Along with the people of Delhi, the Congress, which was routed by the rookie party, will keep an eye on the government’s performance.

Read: Will play the role of an 'honest, sincere' oppn, promises BJP

Read: Once-atheist Kejriwal thanks Supreme Father, Ishwar, Allah, Waheguru for ‘miracle’

Read: Kejriwal and ministers wore common, everyday dress

“Our support (to the AAP) is not unconditional. If they (the AAP) can provide relief to the people of Delhi, it is well and good,” Sheila Dikshit, former chief minister and Congress leader, had said on Monday.

The AAP, which has 28 legislators after a stellar debut in electoral politics, needs the outside support of the eight Congress MLAs to survive. With 32 seats, the BJP is the single largest party in the 70-member House.

The new government will have to prove its majority by January 3. However, the AAP leader did not seem bothered about the floor test. “I’m not worried. This is a minor issue. If we don’t get it (majority), we will go for a re-election and win again,” Kejriwal said after taking oath.


HT POLL

‘No witch-hunting against bureaucrats’
After his first cabinet meeting, Kejriwal assured bureaucrats there would not be any witch-hunting drive against them.

“I told bureaucrats to work with honesty. The bureaucracy is a bit worried. I told them that honest people need not be scared,” he said.

The AAP leader, however, added, “Dishonest officers used to get the rewards, while honest officers were sidelined. Now, it will be the opposite.”

Stressing the AAP’s stand against VIP culture, the cabinet decided no escort vehicle would be provided to government officials. It also decided that security will be provided based on threat perception.

The newly form cabinet also issued a decree against ministers and officials in the Delhi government using red beacons.


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