NEW DELHI (TIP): Arvind Kejriwal took oath as Delhi’s youngest chief minister on February 14 with a speech that thanked the aam aadmi, reassured the minorities, reached out to the opposition and promised an end to corruption and VIP culture in five years.
Addressing a crowd of about 50,000 people at the Ramlila Maidan – a city landmark where the anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare first started – Kejriwal laid all speculations about his party’s national ambition to rest saying that AAP’s massive mandate was a “miracle” and also a “directive” for him to focus only on Delhi for the next five years.
“Over the last few days I have heard some of our volunteers talk about fighting more state elections. This is wrong. We paid for our arrogance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. God punished us for it. I will stay here for the next five years and work for Delhi with full dedication,” he said. AAP, particularly Kejriwal, had received a lot of flak from the capital’s electorate for the impulsive exit from power and also the decision to contest on 440 Lok Sabha seats barely six months after its impressive debut in the capital in 2013.
Listing out his priorities for the next five years, the new CM assured that his government will pass the Janlokpal Bill and also revive the anti-corruption helpline that was started during his 49-day stint in power. “I’ll try to make Delhi the first corruption-free state of the country. I will repeat what I said on December 28 – if someone asks you for a bribe, don’t refuse. Pick up your mobile phones and record it. We will act upon it,” he said.
At a time when the central government has been criticised for remaining mum on communal violence, Kejriwal, interestingly, spoke out on this issue. Referring to the recent incidents in the capital, he said he will work with the police to ensure people of all religious communities feel safe. He also hinted at the involvement of “political forces” in such unrest. “I would also appeal all those forces [indulging in communal violence] to stop resorting to such kind of politics,” he said.
Often described as a “man in a hurry”, the AAP leader this time was careful in setting deadlines for himself and the government. He appealed to the media to not judge his work in a few hours as he has five years to prove himself. He also dropped enough hints that he had made peace with the legitimate perks of being in power.
He then reached out to the opposition starting from prime minister Narendra Modi to Kiran Bedi and the voters who polled in favour of the BJP during the state elections. While he sought Modi’s “constructive cooperation” for implementing AAP’s promise of full statehood for Delhi, Kejriwal said that he would welcome Kiran Bedi’s and Ajay Maken’s guidance on governance.
As for the people who did not vote for him, Kejriwal said, “The aam aadmi’s sarkar is everyone’s government whether you voted for us or not. I am everyone’s chief minister – even the three constituencies which voted for the BJP.”