Kejriwal vows a corruption-free government

Amid cheers and slogan shouting, Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday took oath as the seventh chief minister of Delhi at a huge public rally in central Delhi and vowed to give a corruption-free government.

The 45-year-old chief minister, the youngest ever in the city, told everyone present at the rally to vow that they would never pay a bribe.

Later in his speech, he said if you are pushed to pay a bribe in any government office go ahead and do so. “We will announce a helpline number in the next two days on which you can lodge a complaint after paying the bribe. We will get your work done and also punish the bribe taker,” he announced.

The oath-taking ceremony lasted around 20 minutes after which the bespectacled chief minister and his six cabinet ministers, all wearing the party’s trademark white Gandhi caps, waved at the crowds from the dais. After Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who administered the oath of office to the chief minister and his cabinet members, left the dais, Kejriwal took to the mike.

He began with slogans “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad”, and noted that two years ago when he had joined Gandhian Anna Hazare in his anti-corruption campaign at Ramlila Ground, no one had imagined that they would reach this stage.

“This victory is really a miracle, we could not even have thought two years back such a revolution would come, that we would be able to uproot the corrupt parties and real democracy would be established,” he said thanking God, as over one lakh people at venue broke into a rapturous applause.

The activist-turned-politician, who along with his cabinet members reached the venue on the Metro train, urged people and bureaucrats to join in his mission.

“We have no magic wand...we do not have solutions for all the problems in the city but if 1.5 crore people of Delhi join us, we all will form the government and serve the people,” he said. “We are not here to enjoy power but to serve the people...we have to change the politics of the country,” he said, adding that the bureaucracy needs to feel the pain of the common man and  take them along to rid the country of corruption.

He warned his cabinet colleagues against becoming arrogant and ignoring problems of people. The chief minister also hinted at the uphill task ahead – due to the party not having a clear majority to run the government. “Communal forces and big powers are going to create problems for us...it’s a thorny path ahead of us,” he said, hinting at the possible problems that the government may face in the Assembly due to lack of numbers.

“If the trust vote fails the people are ready for the next polls,” he said, adding that the party was not worried. He surprised many by singing a song from the 1959 Hindi film “Paigaam” after his speech.

Kejriwal, a former Indian Revenue Service officer and mechanical engineering from IIT, called upon upright leaders in the BJP and the Congress to join hands with his party and serve the nation. Congress leaders were not present at the ceremony. 

“We had our own functions related to our party’s foundation day so we were busy with it,”said a Delhi Congress leader. Soon after the oath-taking ceremony, Kejriwal and the six ministers visited Rajghat before beginning work at the secretariat where they decided to ban use of red beacon by ministers and officials, among other decisions to seek trust vote in the Assembly on January 2.

Almost all Delhi government officials who came to the venue did not have a red beacon on their vehicles. Even foreigners were present at the venue to attend the “historic”event.

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