Deciding not to keep any portfolio but play the supervisor, interact with the public and bring systemic changes in the administrative framework, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal returned as Chief Minister of Delhi on Saturday, a year to the day he resigned for not being allowed to push his party agenda.
Minutes after he was sworn-in at the head of a seven-member cabinet before a sea of white caps at the Ramlila Maidan, Kejriwal cautioned the party against arrogance: “Out of 70 seats, we won 67. This is a miracle and is not the work of just one person. Everybody voted for us. But when something like this happens, when you get so much success, arrogance rises inside. And if arrogance rises, everything is finished… we will not be able to complete our mission.”
He also sent a clear message to AAP leaders who want the party to contest elections in other states like Punjab and Bihar after the Delhi landslide. “Over the last few days, some of our people have been saying we will fight polls here, we will fight polls there, now we will fight elections in 5 states, we will fight elections in 10 states. This reflects a little arrogance. I don’t think this is right,” he said.
The AAP, he said, would now concentrate solely on Delhi . “God has given me orders, the people of Delhi have given me orders…For five years, I will stay in Delhi and serve only and only the people of Delhi. I will fulfill my responsibility fully with body, mind and soul.”
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He underlined that his government would work hard to make Delhi not only corruption-free, but would also come down hard on communal forces that vitiate the atmosphere.
“There are attempts to cause riots between religious communities. Some churches were attacked. Delhi’s people are peaceful… we have never seen much incidents in Delhi. The people of Delhi will not tolerate this. The people of Delhi, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, all of us celebrate Diwali together, celebrate Id together, celebrate Christmas together, we want to live together in brotherhood,” he said.
“I want to say to all those powers that are indulging in this kind of politics, that stop this kind of politics. Although Delhi Police does not report to the Delhi government, but I have full faith that together with the Delhi Police, we will make Delhi such a city, where every Hindu, every Muslim, every Christian, every Sikh can feel safe. Every religion and every caste and community can feel safe.”
He urged police to take stringent action against “goondagardi”: “Some doctors came to me. They said that sometimes some people wearing topis came to them, and did goondagardi in hospitals. It is possible that some opponents wear our caps and try to defame us. I want to issue an instruction, that if anybody wears a topi and does goondagardi, don’t spare him, arrest him immediately and send him to jail. That person cannot be from the Aam Aadmi Party. Punish him double of what is written in the law.”
In his speech last time, Kejriwal concentrated on changing the country and getting rid of corruption. But in his second avatar as CM, he seemed more mellow. He constantly referred to Delhi and its populace, of delivering on big-ticket promises on power, water and Lokpal.
Like 2013, he asked people not to refuse to pay bribes and instead accept and record such conversations on mobile phones. “Setting kar lena… record on your mobile phone. When he asks for money, record his voice, and give it to me, and we will take the strictest action against him. For this, we will start the same (anti-corruption) telephone line as quickly as possible,” he said.
Kejriwal also asked the media and Delhi not to be impatient. “After running the government for 49 days, we have the confidence that in five years, we will eradicate corruption from Delhi. We can do it. I want to request my colleagues in the media with folded hands. They ask me if I will do it in 24 hours or 48 hours, 30 hours or 32 hours. I want to tell them that a government does not run like this. The other parties didn’t do anything in 65 years. We will do it as quickly as possible but we will do everything concretely. Don’t run this government on hours, the people of Delhi have given us five years,” he said.
He mentioned the AAP resolve on full statehood for Delhi. Recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal said, “For 15 years, the BJP has been fighting to give Delhi full statehood. I said this to the Prime Minister that god cannot give us a more golden opportunity. In Delhi, we have full majority, at the centre, you have full majority. If you and I decide that Delhi should be made a full state, then Delhi will become a full state.”
He wrapped up his speech with a song — it was a repeat of the 2013 inaugural. “In the end, I want to sing a prayer. I am warning you I sing very badly. All of you know, my throat is very bad. But these words are very good. These days, when in society, in the name of religion and caste, people are trying to poison the atmosphere. We want to change this politics of poison, to the politics of love and compassion. I will sing each line, and you will repeat after me… Insaan ka insaan se ho bhaichaara, yahi paigam humaara…”. And they all sang along.