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Arvind Kejriwal to be Delhi chief minister, says no to security

Agencies  New Delhi, December 23, 2013
First Published: 10:26 IST(23/12/2013) | Last Updated: 22:17 IST(23/12/2013)

After a fortnight-long political uncertainty, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal met the Delhi lieutenant governor, Najeeb Jung, on Monday to stake claim to form a government in the Capital.

Refraining from specifying a date, Kejriwal, 45, said he and his ministers would take oath at Ramlila Maidan, where Anna Hazare and the AAP leader had launched the campaign for Jan Lokpal in 2011.

Kejriwal, without specifically mentioning the critical support of the eight Congress MLAs, asserted the AAP, which has 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, had the legislative majority to rule Delhi.

An engineer by training and a former Indian Revenue Service officer whose social activism won him the Ramon Magsaysay award, Kejriwal did not say who would be the next chief minister.

Read: Likely ministers in Kejriwal government

But, AAP leader Manish Sisodia declared the top post would go to Kejriwal, who led the one-year-old party to a dream debut in the December 4 polls.

“We fought the elections under his leadership and all the MLAs had selected him as the CM candidate,” said Sisodia, who is tipped to become a minister.

Read: AAP govt in Delhi may not last long, says Prashant Bhushan

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal arrives to address a press conference at the party headquarters in Ghaziabad. (AFP photo)

Later in the day, Kejriwal turned down ‘Z’ category security. “I don’t need any security... God is my biggest security,” he wrote to the police department, adding, “However, I would be grateful if some help is provided for crowd management... at a few places where I get mobbed.”

A police officer said, “We went to the Constitution Club where Arvind Kejriwal was attending a meeting with party MLAs and offered him the security cover provided to a chief minister, but he denied it.”  Kejriwal later left the venue in his car.

Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, who lost to Kejriwal by over 25,000 votes in the New Delhi assembly constituency, gave her “best wishes” to the AAP.

Read: Sheila gives best wishes to AAP, but says Cong support not unconditional

“We are extending outside support. It is not unconditional. If they can provide relief to the people of Delhi, it is well and good,” Dikshit said.

Close on the heels of her remarks, AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said he was wary of Congress' “track record”.  “I don't expect that our government will survive for long,” he added.

The AAP was earlier invited by Jung to form the government after the BJP (32) turned down the offer due to the lack of numbers. The rookie party had sought time and called a referendum, which received an “overwhelming yes”.

AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodiya, Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh address the media after a party meeting at Kaushambi in Ghaziabad. (PTI photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, termed the AAP’s decision to form a government with the Congress’ help a betrayal of people’s verdict.

“The AAP fought the elections on the anti-corruption plank and now they have taken support from a party that has been completely rejected by the people of Delhi. This proves that AAP is hungry for power,” Harsh Vardhan, BJP’s chief minister nominee, said.

Read more: AAP seeking Cong help a betrayal of people's verdict: Harsh Vardhan
Read more: Kejriwal a lesson to India’s political class
Read more: Here's how Kejriwal became the little, big man of Indian politics
Read more: AAP banks on anti-corruption plank to go national

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