‘Special guests’ to share stage with Arvind Kejriwal at swearing-in today
In a first, Delhi’s chief minister designate Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday will be sharing stage with a group of commoners for his swearing-in event – under the banner ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’ (architects of Delhi) – a report on which was first published by HT on Saturday.Updated: Feb 16, 2020 06:18 IST
As a large crowd gathered on the lawns of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) head office in central Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay road on Saturday afternoon, Geeta Devi adjusted her crisply ironed khaki uniform.
It was the first time she would face the camera.
Devi, a 36-year-old homeguard employed with the Delhi government, is one of the 50 people chosen by the AAP to share stage with Delhi’s chief minister designate Arvind Kejriwal, as he takes oath for the third consecutive time in Ramlila Maidan on Sunday. On Saturday, Devi had come to the party office to collect her special invitation card, when she was swamped by a group of news reporters.
In a first, Delhi’s chief minister designate Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday will be sharing stage with a group of commoners for his swearing-in event – under the banner ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’ (architects of Delhi) – a report on which was first published by HT on Saturday.
While Devi helped in the arrest of a pickpocket, her colleague Arun Kumar (22), who is also among the special invitees for the event, had rescued a four-year-old girl from an abduction attempt in a bus in November. Both Devi and Kumar are among 5,000 new homeguard recruits who have been deployed in buses by the AAP government last year to enhance women security.
The special invitees belong to different walks of life — doctors, teachers, sanitation workers, bus conductors, bus drivers, marshals deployed for women security, auto-rickshaw drivers, farmers, anganwadi workers, athletes, IIT and medical students enrolled under scholarships, PWD engineers, businessmen, mobile ambulance operator, relatives of fire officials and police officials who lost their lives on the line of duty and the chief architect of Signature Bridge Ratan Jamshed Batliboi, among others, have also been invited.
“They are the people who make Delhi what it is. They are the true architects of the city,” senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said as he elaborated on ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’ in a press conference earlier on Saturday.
Another senior AAP leader said, “The special invitees will be chosen from a shortlist of around 60 people, which was prepared on the basis of performance in their occupations that have been recognised by the governments, civic agencies or media, or on the basis of reference from department heads in some cases.”
“I am too happy to speak,” said Alka Chaudhary, the first doctor to have joined the AAP government’s flagship project of Mohalla Clinics in Delhi in 2016. She at present is posted at the Peeragarhi clinic, one of the 300-odd clinics that are currently functional. Chaudhary, who too is one of the special invitees for Sunday’s event, said, “There are several doctors like me who have quit their jobs and joined mohalla clinics where they get to serve the rich and the poor. This opportunity is a mark of respect for the entire community.”
For Sonu Gautam, it is going to be his second meeting with the chief minister. The first meeting, he recalled, lasted for a second or two, when he was felicitated in an event by Kejriwal last year under a Delhi government scheme (Farishte Dilli Ke) which is meant to reward residents of the city who rescue accident victims.
“This opportunity, I believe, will motivate more people to act as good samaritans and save lives,” said Gautam, who has saved seven lives in the last two years, including that of a police constable who had met with a scooter accident on National Highway- 24.
Shashi, an 18-year-old Adivasi woman of the Gond community, said she was left both baffled and surprised when she received a phone call on Saturday morning. “I could not recall the name of the person but he repeated twice that I have been invited by the CM (designate) for the ceremony. I had goosebumps. I rushed to inform my parents,” said Shashi, failing to hide her excitement as she spoke to HT on the phone.
On August 29, 2019, HT had published a report on Shashi — whose parents are daily wage labourers — being the first candidate to have cracked the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), under a Delhi government scheme that allows students of scheduled caste and schedule tribes to avail classes at empanelled private coaching centres in the city for free.
In the afternoon, one of her relatives had come to the AAP office to collect her special invite. The person who followed him was Murari Jha, teacher in a Delhi government’s Sarvodaya Vidhyalaya in RK Puram and recipient of the Education Minister’s Special Award in 2017 and Fulbright Teaching Scholarship in 2018. Jha also trains other government teachers.
“In the last five years, the Delhi government prioritised the education sector and increased budget allocations manifold. The outcome reflected in the form of quality education and much better exam results. The CM (designate) inviting a teacher to share stage with him in the oath taking event will be a proud moment, I believe, for all teachers in government schools. It is needless to say how excited I am,” said Jha.
The AAP, which won a thumping majority of 62 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, is likely to repeat all its ministers in the Cabinet-led by Kejriwal in its third term, senior party leaders indicated. They added that deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and five other ministers would also take oath in Ramlila Maidan. In 2015 too, during the start of its second term, the AAP had organised its oath taking ceremony at Ramlila Maidan — the place where the AAP was born out of an anti-corruption movement.
While chief ministers of other states and leaders from other parties have not been invited for the grand ceremony on Sunday, an invitation has been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seven BJP MPs from the city, said senior AAP leader Gopal Rai, who examined the preparations at the venue on Saturday afternoon.
Around 50,000 people are expected to be accommodated inside the premises of the central Delhi ground. As many as 3,000 AAP volunteers will be engaged in crowd management, said a senior AAP leader.
Other senior party members said the invitation to the PM was “protocol”. It was, however, not clear whether Modi would attend the swearing-in ceremony. According to his schedule, the Prime Minister is travelling to his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, on Sunday to inaugurate over 30 projects, news agencies reported.