With five minutes to go, the presenter’s voice boomed around Talkatora Stadium. The honourable chief minister was to arrive, seats had to be taken, discipline had to be maintained.
Till then, the inauguration of the Delhi government’s anti-corruption helpline had been a carnival, with song and dance by performers from across the country. The moment Arvind Kejriwal arrived, the air instantly grew purposeful.
This was his first appearance since controversy had hit the AAP from within. It was almost as of it was a show of strength for not just the party, but for him as well.
Till he entered, nobody took to the dais, sitting instead on the front row of seats earmarked for government functionaries.
And when he did, he held both hands aloft, as the giant screen behind him beamed pictures of him waving furiously at the packed stadium. Quickly, his cabinet and senior government officers took to the stage, and the adulation began.
As the first government official took to the dais, he was constant in his praise for the anti-corruption initiatives of the AAP government, with Sisodia mentioned as a anti-corruption crusader. The centre of the praise though was undoubtedly Kejriwal, called the singular nemesis for corruption in Delhi.
Optics were everywhere. They were in the screen behind Kejriwal, which had a wall to wall photo of him, superimposed on a white background with the helpline number 1031, behind the dignitaries on the dais. They were in Kejriwal’s mock conversation with a responder as he inaugurated the anti corruption helpline.
Even Sisodia, his trusty aide, spoke extensively of how Delhi was moving to becoming corruption-free but drew the loudest cheer when he paid tribute to Kejriwal. “Brashtachaar ka ek hi kaal, Kejriwal Kejriwal,” the hall chanted.
When Kejriwal himself spoke, most of it was rich with the promise that Delhi would become “corruption-free” in the next five years. But there was also an attack on those that have been attacking him, some from within the party.
“There is a big conspiracy that has been hatched against me and my government by trying to defame us and make us unsuccessful. Today, anyone starts abusing me it becomes breaking news. People are writing blogs, tweets, there is a motive behind all this.
We have shaken people who are afraid of what Kejriwal will do…there is not a person born yet that can blackmail me,” Kejriwal said, loudly and clearly.
The partisan stadium cheered, their love of the leader clearer than crystal.