New Delhi, December 28: Witnessed by tens of thousands of cheering people, Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and his six Cabinet colleagues were administered the oath of office by Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung at the historic Ramlila Maidan here on Saturday.
Immediately after being sworn in, the Delhi Chief Minister addressed the crowd and reiterated his promise of a “corruption-free and a new style of governance without exhibition of arrogance of power.”
He played down the immediate test that awaits the AAP government of proving its majority on the floor of the House on January 2, sounding confident about the challenges ahead.
“Whether we pass or fail in the test of confidence motion… we are ready to face elections, if we fail. The people will vote us with a huge majority,” he told the massive gathering, estimated by the Delhi Police estimated to be over 50,000.
Along with Mr. Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Girish Soni, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain, Saurabh Bharadwaj and Somnath Bharti took the oath as Ministers.
Mr. Kejriwal alleged that machinations were afoot against the AAP government, but he asserted that “truth will prevail”. The 45-year-old former Income Tax officer, who broke away from Anna Hazare’s campaign for a Jan Lokpal to jump into politics and stunned the country with a debut score of 28 seats in the Delhi Assembly, took the oath sporting his signature Gandhi cap with Main aam admi hun (I am a common man) inscribed on it.
Mr. Kejriwal sternly warned officials against demanding bribes and called upon the people to help the government in trapping corrupt officials. He announced that in a couple of days the AAP government would issue a toll-free helpline number on which people could lodge complaints if they were harassed for bribes.
Describing the occasion as a “historic moment” that would resonate across India, the Chief Minister said: “If the 1.5 crore of people of Delhi can join hands, then I am confident that this urge for change will spread across the country… It is a huge responsibility. I do not claim to wield a magic wand or possess remedies for all the ills, but if we join together there is no reason why all the problems cannot be solved.”
Talking about Mr. Hazare, Mr. Kejriwal said: “Anna used to say that politics is dirty. But I will try to convince him that we will have to enter this ‘political slush’ and clean it. Sending out an emphatic message for maintaining communal harmony, the Chief Minister sang a few lines of the famous Hindi song: Insaan ka insaan se ho bhaichara/Yahee paigaam hamar, composed by the famous poet Pradeep.
Mr. Hazare and his associate Kiran Bedi, who were invited to the ceremony, did not attend. Neither did several other political leaders, including the former Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit. BJP leader Harsh Vardhan was the lone prominent politician present.
The first decisions
Hours after being sworn in, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reshuffled Delhi Administration’s top bureaucracy, making new appointments to posts of the power department, the Delhi Jal Board and the Delhi Transport Corporation.
In all, nine IAS officers were transferred. The Police Commissioner was among the officials Mr. Kejriwal met on Saturday.
In keeping with its promise, the government’s first decision was to ban red beacon lights on vehicles other than those that are used in essential services, such as ambulances.
No security will be provided to any functionary, unless there is a threat perception.