Taking charge for a third time after a tenure marked by face-offs with the central government, AAP leader and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Sunday that he wanted to “work together” with the Centre to make Delhi a “world-class city”.
Addressing a large gathering at the Ramlila Maidan after being sworn-in along with six ministers, Kejriwal also said that he has forgiven his opponents for their remarks against him during a bitter election campaign, including calling him “a terrorist”.
“I had invited the Prime Minister for the ceremony today, but he could not make it because he is busy. I want the PM to bless us so that we can work for the development and progress of Delhi,” Kejriwal told a large gathering.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Varanasi but later congratulated Kejriwal “on taking oath as Delhi’s CM earlier today”. “Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure,” Modi tweeted.
Delhi witnessed a heated, and often vicious, campaign this time with BJP leaders targetting Kejriwal, MoS Anurag Thakur prompting the “Goli maaro” chant in reference to the anti-CAA protests, and the party’s West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh targetting protesters at Shaheen Bagh in an interview where he spoke of them entering homes and “raping daughters and sisters”.
In his speech, delivered nearly a week after AAP won 62 of 70 seats, Kejriwal said he had “forgiven our opposition” for the remarks.
“We have to do a lot of work in Delhi. I cannot do it alone, I need your support in making Delhi the most developed and beautiful city in the world. I want to work together with everybody. It is normal to have tussles between different political parties during elections. We have forgiven our opposition for whatever remarks they made. I would also like to request the opposition parties to forget what happened during the elections… I want to work together with the central government to make Delhi a world-class city,” he said.
Kejriwal had first taken charge in 2013 before quitting within two months when the Jan Lokpal Bill was not passed, keeping with his image at the time as an activist and protester. Since taking oath for the second time in 2015, the AAP government has made key interventions in education and health, apart from reducing electricity and water tariffs, to storm back to power.
On Sunday, sharing the stage with his son and brother, Kejriwal said: “Your son has taken the oath as CM for the third time. This is not my victory, this is your victory. This is the victory of 2 crore Delhiites, every mother, sister, youth, student, teacher, and every family of Delhi. In the last five years, we have tried to bring prosperity and happiness in the lives of each and every Delhiite. In the last five years, we have tried to increase the pace of development in Delhi, and we will continue to do so in the next five years.”
With no other Opposition party leaders invited, those who shared the elevated platforms were the chief guests: “50 Dilli Ke Nirmata” — teachers, public servants, farmers and bus marshals, among others.
The Chief Minister hit a combative mode, however, when he referred to those who questioned him on the subsidies that AAP offered over the last five years.
“They say Kejriwal is making everything free, but isn’t everything precious that has been given by God free? A mother’s love for her child is free, a father’s love that shows in the struggle to secure a good future for his child is priceless. Shravan Kumar served his parents with all he had. Kejriwal is your Shravan Kumar. Do I start charging people for education and health? Do I start charging patients for their operations? I cannot do this,” he said, referring to the character in the Ramayana who devoted his life to his parents.
In a marked difference from the ceremony of 2015, none of the AAP MLAs wore the trademark party caps while being sworn-in. As in 2015, the ceremony ended with Kejriwal singing a few lines. Five years ago, it was “Insaan se insaan ka ho bhaichara”. On Sunday, it was “Hum honge kamyaab”.
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