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Kejriwal goes back to where it all started, Ramlila Maidan

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 26, 2013
First Published: 00:44 IST(26/12/2013) | Last Updated: 00:48 IST(26/12/2013)

It was Delhi's Ramila Maidan where an anti-corruption movement by social activist Anna Hazare and his protégé Arvind Kejriwal took a decisive turn in August 2011, forcing Parliament to commit to an anti-corruption watchdog.

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Twenty-eight months later, Kejriwal will go back to the sprawling, historic ground in central Delhi on Saturday, as a leader chosen by the masses to take oath as Delhi's seventh chief minister.

"All of you came to Ramlila Maidan in August 2011. We again assemble at Ramlila Maidan. We'll achieve our dream of a corruption-free India," CM-designate Kejriwal said.

"It is not my victory, it is their victory. I am not forming the government, it is the people of Delhi who are forming this government. It is their ceremony. I appeal to all the Delhiites to join in," he said.

AAP leader Kumar Vishwas said invites were sent to Anna Hazare, Santosh Hegde, Kiran Bedi, all part of the 2011 agitation that had triggered mass solidarity protests across India.

Kejriwal, who formed AAP in November last year, has since fallen out with Hazare and Bedi. Hazare has clarified he would not attend the swearing-in ceremony because of his ill health. Bedi is also unlikely to attend the ceremony as she will be in Bangalore on Saturday.

Kejriwal did not appear bothered about the Congress' support to AAP, which has 28 MLAs and hence needs the help of eight Congress legislators to form a government in the 70-member House.

"MLAs who want to work for the people of Delhi will support us. We don't have an alliance with anyone. The Aam Aadmi Party government is based on issues. We are concentrating on those issues, not support," he said.

The probable ministers are Manish Sisodia, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain and Girish Soni. "We are working on the portfolios. We have started working on the implementation of our manifesto. We are in talks with the Delhi government officials on all key issues," Kejriwal said.

President Pranab Mukherjee has cleared the decks for the formation of a minority AAP government with the Congress backing. Chief minister-designate Kejriwal has been asked to prove his majority by January 3.

The December 28 date for the swearing-in ceremony was chosen after a meeting of party leaders at Kejriwal's Kaushambi residence in Ghaziabad.

Parliament passed a Lokpal Bill early this month, with AAP stating that it now wanted a bill in Delhi, too. "Corruption is a major issue for us. All obstacles will be removed and the Janlokpal bill will be passed within 15 days in the Delhi Assembly," Kejriwal said.

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