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Why Arvind Kejriwal's Feb 14 speech was familiar yet different

Arvind Kejriwal does not have to drum up his USP of anti-graft stand and cheap 'bijli-paani (electricty and water)' anymore. For that's the brand of politics that has become a huge hit with Delhiites. The only thing he has to prove this time is: the AAP can indeed deliver on its promises.

delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2015 01:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Arvind Kejriwal,Arvind Kejriwal swearing-in,Arvind Kejriwal at Ramlila Maidan

In his speech after taking oath as Delhi’s eighth chief minister on Saturday, Arvind Kejriwal struck an inclusive note: one that talks about taking rivals along on the path of development.

The tone of his 30-minute long speech resembled the one he made after taking over as the Delhi CM for the first time on December 28, 2013. Just like a year ago, pledges of a corruption-free Delhi and the empowerment of the aam aadmi (common man) earned him applause at a packed Ramlila Maidan.

"Today, every resident of Delhi has taken oath as the Delhi CM,” Kejriwal reiterated, repeating what he had said on December 28.

He talked about launching a toll-free number to curb corruption, an initiative his government had kick-started during its brief stint of 49 days last year.

Yet, the substance of his speech was quite different. And the words, it seemed, were crafted deliberately to be different.

The former civil servant, whose party won a whopping 67 of the 70 seats in the recently held assembly polls, stressed practising a brand of politics that would be beneficial for all.

After a bitterly fought election, he used the stage of Ramlila Maidan to spread the message of ‘bhaichara (brotherhood)’.

Kejriwal, who had accused the BJP and the Congress of being hand in glove during his first stint, also talked about taking guidance from rivals Kiran Bedi and Ajay Maken in running the government.

"I respect Kiran Bedi. She is like my elder sister. She has good experience in administration. I need her advice. I will cooperate with Ajay Maken too. I will involve everyone to make Delhi an ideal state."

As supporters waved AK-67 placards and cheered every statement he made, Kejriwal held out an olive branch to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We want to work with Centre. We want a constructive co-operation to make Delhi a great place to live in… the PM is a busy man… Let him take care of the country.”

Yet, like a seasoned politician, he touched upon the issue of statehood for Delhi and lobbed the ball in the Centre’s court.

The BJP has for the past 15 years supported statehood for Delhi, he said, adding there was now a ‘golden opportunity’ to make the dream a reality.

Going into an introspection mode, Kejriwal said an ‘arrogance’ of sort had led to the downfall of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Lok Sabha elections; the rookie party won just four of the 400-odd seats it contested.

He warned his party workers against ‘arrogance’ and tried to quell speculation that AAP would now pursue its national ambitions by asserting that the party was here to stay and serve the Capital for five years.

Stung by a series of controversies in his previous stint, the AAP chief was also cautiously optimistic on the promises his party made.

“We request media to not ask me a timeline for the work I want to do. Other parties couldn’t do them in years, but we will work 24 hours.”

In Kejriwal's words, the AAP was ‘passionate’ after its successful electoral debut in 2013. But now, after 49 days in power, the AAP was ‘confident’, he said.

And that summarises the much-talked-about Kejriwal 2.0.

He can now condemn the recent church attacks in Delhi and also spread the message of brotherhood in the same breath.

True to his aam aadmi style, he said the party wanted to end the VIP culture in Delhi – but added that would take time.

This is in contrast to the quickfire decision of banning red beacons after his first secretariat meeting on December 28.

In short, Kejriwal 2.0, it appears, has gone through a metamorphosis: from a ‘passionate’ politician to a ‘confident’ leader.

And now, he does not have to drum up his USP of anti-graft stand and cheap 'bijli-paani (electricty and water)' anymore. For his brand of politics has become a huge hit with Delhiites. The only thing he has to prove this time is: the AAP can indeed deliver on its promises.

Kejriwal will not hold additional portfolios in the new Delhi cabinet, perhaps to take a step forward in that direction.

"Kejriwal will connect with the people," deputy CM Manish Sisodia said.

"He will meet people to know what their problems are. He will also oversee the MLAs..He will oversee all ministries through modern technology. He will try to bring systemic changes."

First Published: Feb 14, 2015 18:54 IST