Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Race Course Road residence this morning and invited the latter for his oath ceremony as Delhi chief minister on Saturday. The PM has prior appointments and is unlikely to attend.
“Unfortunately PM Modi will not be able to attend Arvind ji’s oath taking ceremony,” senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who accompanied Mr Kejriwal, said after the 15-minute meeting. PM Modi is scheduled to be out of Delhi on Saturday.
Mr Sisodia also said, “We had a good talk with the PM, told him that there is a full majority government at the Centre and Delhi and this is a golden opportunity.”
Since his party swept Delhi on Tuesday, Mr Kejriwal has reached out to the Centre clearly seeking to put behind him a bitter election campaign, aware that he needs the union government’s support to fulfill the mega promises he has made to Delhi’s voters.
When the PM had called to congratulate him on his stunning win on Tuesday, Mr Kejriwal sought the Centre’s support and won an assurance from Mr Modi, who also invited him for a ‘chai pe charcha’.
Nine months ago, Mr Modi defeated his chief challenger Arvind Kejriwal in the national elections from Varanasi by lakhs of votes. On Tuesday, Mr Kejriwal’s AAP reduced PM Modi’s BJP to spectator status in Delhi, winning 67 of 70 seats. The BJP got three.
For the oath ceremony at noon on Saturday at the Ramlila grounds, AAP is also inviting all union cabinet ministers, the BJP’s seven Delhi MPs and Kiran Bedi, who was fielded by the BJP against Mr Kejriwal for Delhi chief minister.
Though he will take over as chief minister only on Saturday, Mr Kejriwal has been at work already. Yesterday, he met two central ministers and Delhi’s chief secretary, scheduling presentations by various departments next week.
He has wasted no time in raising the issue of full statehood for Delhi in meetings with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu yesterday.
In a bitter election campaign for Delhi, AAP had criticised the BJP, its chief rival, for dropping the full statehood demand in its vision statement. The BJP has, in earlier elections, consistently made the demand for full statehood too.
The Centre controls Delhi’s police, cited by political parties that have governed Delhi as a big drawback. Last year, Arvind Kejriwal’s 49-day minority government had clashed with the Centre over Delhi Police.