Kejriwal seeks Modi's blessings for Delhi's development, vows new politics

Arvind Kejriwal at Ramlila Maidan | Photos: Dalip Kumar
Under a warm sun that marked the end of winter, Arvind Kejriwal took his third oath as Delhi chief minister in seven years. Keen to reshape his and his party’s image from that of disruptors to a centrist, problem-solving umbrella party, the 51-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician sought cooperation from rival parties in making Delhi the “number one city”.


Kejriwal reached out to supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, and other parties, and said he was now their CM too and they should approach him unhesitatingly. He said he was keen to move beyond the bad blood of elections, and sought cooperation and blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre.


“I had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi but he could not come as he may have been busy. We want to seek his blessings for smooth governance of Delhi,” Kejriwal said in his nearly 20-minute address.


The prime minister, who was in his constituency Varanasi where he inaugurated several projects, later greeted Kejriwal on Twitter. “I congratulate Shri @ArvindKejriwal on taking oath as Delhi's CM earlier today. Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure,” Modi tweeted.


Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators have taken to speak of Delhi’s government-run schools, health clinics and round-the-clock power supply as the “Kejriwal model of governance”.


After he took oath, Kejriwal said this “new politics” will have India take its rightful place in the global order. There were suggestions that he, either under his party’s flag or suitable allies, might take this ‘new politics’ across the country. Senior party leader Gopal Rai said, for expansion, the party would launch a campaign from February 23 to March 23 in all states to connect with 10 million people.


Kejriwal spoke of not just Delhi, but of an India that needed this “new politics of 21st century” of better schools, hospitals and roads, where women security was ensured and which was corruption free.


He read out a charter for India that spoke of ensuring education for each child, jobs for the youth, farmers getting suitable price of their produce and basic necessities for all.


Kejriwal said people across the country had started questioning their governments on why they cannot deliver basic services when Delhi can. He said some of the governments have started following in the footsteps of the Delhi government by promising 100 units and 75 units of free electricity.


Thank you for the warm wishes sir. I wish you could come today, but I understand you were busy. We must now work together towards making Delhi a city of pride for all Indians

Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 16, 2020

He addressed thousands of supporters and party workers at the Ramlila Ground in the national capital and reacted to criticism that he is providing services for “free”.


“All the precious things on this planet, god has given for free. A mother or father’s love for their child… Kejriwal loves the people of Delhi, and the people of Delhi love Kejriwal. This is also free love. You can't put a price on it. Should I start charging big fees from students in our government schools? Shame on such chief ministers. Should I start taking money from poor patients who come for treatment to hospitals? I will be ashamed of myself if I did such a thing,” he said.


He began and ended his speech with slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Vande Mataram’, and in between sang Hum honge kaamyab, the Hindi version of We shall overcome.


While he has been criticised for not visiting Shaheen Bagh, the site of protests against the amended Citizenship law, Kejriwal said his government represented all religions, all castes, the poor and the rich.


After Kejriwal, six of his ministers were given oath of office, including Manish Sisodia. If Imran Hussain took his oath in the name of “Allah” and “Ishwar”, Rajendra Pal Gautam invoked Buddha.


There are, however, no women in the council of ministers. According to data released by Lokniti, women voted for AAP in big numbers. The AAP won 62 of the 70 Delhi Assembly seats with a vote percentage of nearly 54 per cent.


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