Barely 15-20 minutes before Saturday’s swearing-in ceremony, giving a miss to the the VIP enclosure with reserved seats, family members of CM Arvind Kejriwal, deputy CM Manish Sisodia and senior AAP leaders such as Kumar Vishwas and Ashish Khetan slipped in, taking chairs in the first three rows amid the general public.
Away from the crowd of journalists craning their necks near the VIP enclosure, the parents, wife and both children of chief minister Kejriwal and his deputy Sisodia sat through the first 15 minutes of the programme, chatting with a few people seated behind them. When Kejriwal came to the stage and took oath, his wife Sunita stood with her children Harshita and Pulkit, all in a rare public appearance, to cheer a husband and father.
Kejriwal’s parents, who stood next to them, strained their necks, his mother standing on her toes, to see their son sign his oath as chief minister. Midway through the programme, when some camerapersons managed to locate the group in the crowd and called out to Sunita, she again stood up with her family, this time waving to the cameras with her children.
The group, AAP workers said, drove together from Kejriwal’s residence in the morning. Seema Sisodia, wife of deputy CM Sisodia, who also sat with Kejriwal’s family with her son, said she would support her husband in fulfilling his promises. “It is difficult to describe the feeling today. People have put so much faith in us. Give us some time and we will fulfil all the promises…what else can I say?” she said. Towards the end of the programme, just as Kejriwal was starting his prayer song after his speech, the families slipped out.
The VIP enclosure, with reserved seats saw many other party MLAs, AAP leaders and their family members, and many friends of Kejriwal including his IIT batchmates. Wife of the Assembly Speaker and Shahadra MLA Ram Nivas Goyal, Mithilesh Goyal, said her husband had given her “the best gift in the love of the people”. Goyal, standing next to her and clicking pictures, said, “Good you got it on Valentines Day”.
A housewife, Mithilesh said she would help her husband in his work in the constituency. “He will manage the assembly, I will work for the people who got him there.”
Mohammad Ishraque, MLA of Seelampur came with his wife and daughter, a class XII student. Sambreen said, “My classmates already know me as the daughter of Kejriwal’s man in Seelampur. When my father was campaigning, they would joke saying it was impossible to fight against Mateen Ahmed, the five time Congress MLA from the area. But my father has made history.”
She said she was considering joining politics. “The country needs people who believe history can be made. People laughed at my father for accepting AAP’s challenge from Seelampur, but see where he is now. Nothing is impossible,” she said.
Yogendra Rai, younger brother of transport minister Gopal Rai, who cheered along with 10-12 people from Rai’s hometown of Mau district, said his brother was nervous till the last vote was counted. “We are simple people and we don’t like letting people down. I sat with my brother on counting day and he waited till the last round of counting before hugging me. Nobody in our family ever thought of politics and now my brother is a minister. It is unbelievable,” he said.