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Delhi Live: Kejriwal removes Delhi Jal Board CEO, eight other ministers

9.30 pm: Delhi Jal Board CEO, eight other ministers removed

IBNLive reports that Kejriwal has removed the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board, as well as eight other ministers on the same board, within hours of the AAP leader being sworn in. The reasons for doing the same have not been officially disclosed, but they are presumably part of Kejriwal's promise to clear out inefficiencies and corruption in the government.

According to a Times of India report, Kejriwal's entry into the Delhi Jal Board as its chairman had made many in the board nervous. "The prospect of Kejriwal's entry into the water utility has made many officials nervous and those eager to make a clean start with the new chief are learned to have made a list of suspicious deals and corrupt people in the department for him," the Times of India report had said.

"I have been informed that there are certain problems with them. For instance, as far as I know there was no tendering for the Nangloi project. Secondly, DJB is providing raw water to the private company for free. They will be paid Rs 15 per kilolitre for the treated water whereas DJB can do the same work for Rs 3-4 per kl. What is the need for this excessive expenditure? There are similar problems with the Malviya Nagar model and these have to be re-visited," said Kejriwal in the same report.

9.15 pm: Senior IAS officer Rajendra Kumar appointed as Kejriwal's secretary

Senior IAS officer Rajendra Kumar was today appointed as the Secretary of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

A 1989 batch IAS officer, Kumar, an IIT, Delhi, alumnus like Kejriwal, was Higher Education Secretary and had earlier handled various departments including power and transport.

All the other six ministers have also got secretaries.

9pm: AAP government in Delhi will seek vote of confidence on January 2

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP goverment in Delhi will seek a vote of confidence on January 2 on the floor of Delhi assembly.

The session of the assembly will begin on January 1 and the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker has been fixed for January 3, a Delhi government press release said today after a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

7.40 pm: Decision on power, water tariff to be taken next week, says Kejriwal

The new government in Delhi will decide on its promise of supply of 700 litres of free water to each household and cutting down electricity charges early next week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today after meeting officials.

He also assured officials that there will be no witch-hunt against them if they work honestly and in the interest of the people.

"I have asked officials to work out. By Monday, I will be able to say something," Kejriwal said on his promise of supply of 700 litres of water.

"On power, we will be able to say something by Tuesday or Wednesday", he told reporters after a series of meetings with officials from various departments including Power, Transport, Vigilance and Delhi Jal Board.

In its manifesto, AAP had promised to slash power tariff by 50 per cent besides carrying out scrutiny of the accounts of private power distribution companies.

5.31 pm: Now JD(U) asks its lone candidate to be made Assembly Speaker

According to PTI, the JD(U) has appealed to both the Opposition and the government to consider making its lone MLA, also the senior most leader in the House Shoaib Iqbal the Assembly speaker. PTI quotes JD(U) general secretary Javed Raza as saying:

"Being the most senior member in the Assembly, Iqbal is already Pro-tem Speaker. He has been Deputy Speaker in the past and is currently the most senior member in the House. The ruling party and the Opposition should build consensus on his name and make him Speaker."

5.18 pm: CII hopes Arvind Kejriwal will turn out to be a biz friendly CM

Given that Arvind Kejriwal went all guns blazing against the discoms in his manifesto itself and sought to fix escalating power tariff, India Inc today welcomed Kejriwal, albeit with some trepidation.

IANS quotes CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee as saying, "CII is confident that the new government would be industry friendly and strengthen Delhi’s pre-eminent position both economically and socially."

Meanwhile, Anna Hazare has extended his blessings and congratulated Kejriwal on becoming the CM. Before heading for the swearing-in ceremony, Kejriwal had said that he has Anna's blessings with him.

Later Anna spoke to the media and said that he wished Kejriwal well and hoped he would serve the country well.

3.51 pm: No security, car with red beacons for bureaucrats

PTI reports on the first decisions taken by Kejriwal's cabinet: "No PSO and escort vehicle to be provided to officials. Security to be allowed based on threat perception".
Given that the first axe fell on the bureaucracy, Kejriwal also sought to allay their apprehensions saying that there will no 'witch-hunt' against them. "I have asked them to work honestly," he added.

3.47 pm: Manmohan Singh calls up Kejriwal and congratulates him

After Kejriwal took his oath as Delhi's CM, he got call  from PM Manmohan Singh. According to PTI, Singh, extended his  'best wishes and support as he (Kejriwal) undertakes new responsibilities as Delhi Chief Minister'.

3.40 pm: Kejriwal to meet police commissioner BS Bassi

After taking oath as Delhi's chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal said he will meeting Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi on Saturday.

"I am going to meet the police commissioner. I will also meet officials from the power department, DJB (Delhi Jal Board), transport department and Indraprastha Gas Ltd," Kejriwal said at his office.

From IANS

3.oo pm: Meanwhile, #MyCMKejriwal trends on Twitter

BJP's social media cell seems to be facing stiff competition from its AAP counterpart. As soon as Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the Delhi chief minister, #MyCMKejriwal started trending on Twitter and featured in the top trends for quite some time.

While most tweets using the hashtag were all praises for the new chief minister of Delhi, several others, mostly BJP supporters, attacked Kejriwal on the old lines.

 

 

 

 

Curiously enough, suddenly, the narrative has taken a BJP versus Kejriwal colour, though the latter seemed to be equally disenchanted by both Congress and BJP. Some other tweets critical of the AAP and venting at Kejriwal are as follows:

 

 

 

2:17 pm: Kejriwal to hold his first cabinet meeting at 2.30 pm

After announcing the ministries, Arvind Kejriwal will reportedly hold his first Cabinet meeting shortly. According to reports, the meeting is supposed to take place a 2.30 pm. With doubts already making the rounds about the Kejriwal government's abilities to keep promises, the cabinet has to get cracking on providing free 700 litres of water and subsidizing electricity bills immediately.

Kejriwal had said though water will be made free as soon as the government takes charge, making sure it reaches all corners of Delhi will be an uphill task and will take some time.

1.51 pm: Kejriwal announces ministries, keeps home, finance, vigilance, power, planning to himself

In a short press conference, Arvind Kejriwal announced the allotment of ministries. He said he will keep the home ministry, finance, planning, vigilance and power ministries to himself. Somnath Bharti will handle tourism, law and administrative reforms.

Rakhi Birla will take charge of women and child development and take charge of women's security.

Girish Soni gets SC, ST, employment and labour portfolios. Satyendra Jain has been given health and industries.

Manish Sisodia will hold the PWD and education ministries.

12.35 pm: Part naive, part melodramatic, part idealistic, Arvind Kejriwal strikes a chord as the aam aadmi CM of Delhi

In his first address as the chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kerjriwal hit several right notes - some perfectly in line with the traditional style of Indian politicking, some surprisingly unaffected, some high on idealism and some laudably sharp.

Kejriwal started his speech with a call we have now come to associate with Narendra Modi - "Bharat Mata ki Jai". However, he quickly followed it up with a hint of the revolutionary streak in his party.  He shouted 'Inquilab Zindabad' immediately after.

And perfectly in line with the thrust of his party, Kejriwal came up with a grandiose beginning to his appeal to the people of Delhi. He said, "Today, it was not me who was sworn-in as the chief minister of Delhi, the six ministers standing with me have not been sworn-in. Every aam aadmi in Delhi has sworn in as the chief minister of Delhi today."

Instead of sounding a audacious bugle to other parties and pompously celebrating their victory, Kejriwal chose to travel back in time by two-and-a-half-years and start where he had began with Anna Hazare. He admitted that it is no less than a miracle that a movement which started just two-and-half-years back has culminated in him taking oath as the chief minister. He also, cleverly, referred to the differences he had with Anna Hazare even as he credited Anna Hazare and the anti-corruption wave he started with his present victory. Making their rift out as a difference in ideals - ideals, and not intent or ambition, nevertheless - Kejriwal established that maybe he was right in following what he thought was right alongside whitewashing a fall-out that has his critics relentlessly target him with.

"Two and half years back Anna ji had said that politics is muck. You'll defile yourself if you get into politics. But I told him that nothing in this country will change if its politics doesn't change. Medicines don't reach hospitals because of the country's rotting politics. Water, electricity is expensive because its politics doesn't allow a corruption-free system," he said.

Then he reminisced about late AAP worker Santosh Koli.

Following that, Kejriwal tackled what will be his biggest challenge while running a government - the bureaucracy. In a clever move that can be considered a part-warning and part-invitation, he first spoke aloud about what is the popular perception about India's bureaucracy. He then negated it by expressing his faith in bureaucracy and threw the babus an open challenge to mend their own reputation.

"Several people have been coming and telling me that Arvind ji, how will you work with the bureaucracy. Do you know how difficult it is to work with them?" he said, warning the existing ranks of bureaucrats that a failure of the AAP government has high chances of being made out as a fall-out of the non-cooperation or non performance of the bureaucrats. However, he immediately adds, "I told them that I met a lot of officers who are as excited about this government as we are. Now the the officers too will have to take these expectations seriously and serve the people of Delhi."

He then brought out his humility card and continued in a strong self deprecating streak. He warned his party members, MLAs and his ministers of not growing the kind of hubris that can fell a party. "Never let pride grow inside you. Let it never happen that like we had to finish corrupt parties, some other party has to come up to end our hubris. Remember, our battle was not to become ministers and MLAs. Our idea was to serve the aam aadmi. Whenever you meet people in your constituency, meet him with folded hands, like you have been doing so far," he said. He specifically also warned party workers to not do anything that betrays audacity, pride in having won. India is not stranger to the change of tone in public outreach programmes and behaviour of a party once they come to power - in fact, one of India's favourite reasons to be cynical about the county's politics is the obvious change in tone and colour of a party's approach once it wins. With this declaration, Kejriwal, at least verbally addressed similar apprehensions among his voters and supporters.

In a moment of near-brutal honesty Kejriwal admitted that the magnitude of the responsibility that has been placed on his shoulders scares him. "It scares me, the kind of hopes you have on me. But this is not just our government, it is your government. You have to help us succeed, you have to help us implement our ideas. I just hope that God gives us enough strength to fight all challenges," he said. Now what is more appealing to a regular aam aadmi than a leader to admits to fear, trepidation in a language he himself does? While most other emotions - sympathy, pain, concern - risk sounding phony in a political context, fear and apprehension is something that doesn't sound as concocted. However, given that the political affections of the masses have always tilted towards the macho, masculine and overwhelming, one wonders if Kejriwal's raw 'aam aadmi' card would yield followers outside Delhi.

He then washed his hands off the responsibility of re-poll in case Congress withdraws support from them. "I have been hearing some noise about us not coming out winners in the confidence vote that will take place in a week. If we don't, we'll go back to the voters and you'll make sure that we win with a clear majority," he said.

He also hinted as making sweeping changes in the way of governing Delhi, in a language that we understand the best. He suggested that if any official ever asks for bribes, we should get a 'setting' with him. 'Setting' in colloquial Hindi means an arrangement where two parties stand to benefit equally. "I will give you a number in two days. You can call on this number and get corrupt officials caught red handed," he exhorted. It is important here to notice, that Kejriwal's governance pitch, continued to be one that demands honest and zealous participation from the people of Delhi.

He then called Dr Harsh Vardhan a nice man. "Though I can't say the same about BJP. I am urging all parties, if they feel we are doing right, to work for the country now and not their respective parties."

He then made the huge crowd at the Ramlila Maidan take an oath of honesty with him. Curiously enough, large sections of the crowd repeated with him, "We will neither give bribes, nor take bribes."

Then, bringing in a hint of fun to the sombre occasion, he first apologised for his bad singing skills, but anyway went on to sing the party's anthem in a wobbly, mostly out-of-tune voice. With that Kejriwal introduced Delhi to its new chief minister - almost infuriatingly idealistic, at times naive even, but still raw, seemingly honest, and yes, very aam aadmi-like. One who Delhi possibly doesn't mind giving one chance to.

12.10 pm: Critics too not untouched by the enormity of the moment in India's contemporary political narrative

While critics and BJP fans have been relentlessly slamming the Aam Aadmi Party, for forging an understanding with the Congress, many of the party's critics also seemed to have been influenced by the symbolism of the moment. BJP leader Sushil Modi tweeted out:

12.00 pm: Arvind Kejriwal sworn in as the chief minister of Delhi

In a moment, that thousands of Aam Aadmi Party supporters have been fervently looking forward to, Arvind Kejriwal was sworn in as the Delhi chief minister.

Image courtesy: IBN Live.

Image courtesy: IBN Live.

As he climbed on to the dais, peels of cheering rang through the 60,00 strong crowd inside and outside the Ramlila Maidan grounds. Kejriwal took to the microphone, gingerly waving at the crowd and smiling and the crowd broke out in another round of applause.

He then read out the oath after the Lt Governor.

11.38 am: Arvind Kejriwal reaches Ramlila Maidan

Ramlila Maidan, to repeat an oft-used cliche, resembles a sea made of humans - most of whom are sporting the Gandhi topi. Specks of orange and white, colours of our national flag, rear their heads from amid a ocean of white. The last time, any Indian can recollect having seen anything like this, ironically, has to be Anna Hazare's fast in the same ground.

Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola, who is at the Ramlila grounds, tells us that though 35,000 chairs have been laid out inside the premises, security personnel are expecting an overwhelming number of people. As can be seen, the Maidan is already spilling over with people and several thousands are thronging the periphery and several more are reportedly on their way to the area.

Kejriwal, meanwhile, has arrived at the Ramlila Maidan and is now climbing up the stairs to the dais, followed by Manish Sisodia.

11.21 am: Metro to Ramlila: Triumph of symbolism?

As Arvind Kejriwal and his coterie of party workers, MLAs headed to the Metro stations to take a train to Ramlila Maidan, hundreds turned up at the station premises, evidently wanting to be a part of his historic political moment in Delhi. While Kejriwal's move gets full points for symbolism and making a strong statement against the lal batti - VIP culture of Delhi, from the administrative point of view, some said that Kejriwal's move might turn out to be a security and civic hassle.

Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola informs that like the Kausumbi and Barkhamba metro stations, the New Delhi metro station too is packed to literally no leg space left for commuters. AAP workers, supporters and general public have thronged the station to get a glimpse of the AAP leaders all set to take oath.

In fact, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav admitted that the party leaders weren't exactly prepared for the overwhelming affection that supporters seem keen on showing. He tweeted with great consternation:

Trying to reach Ramlila ground. Was mobbed n nearly crushed by enthusiastic supporters at Barakhamba metro station!

— Yogendra Yadav (@AapYogendra) December 28, 2013

However, since this is a swearing-in and marks the arrival of a kind of politics India is both curious and apprehensive about, it probably makes sense to make that extra allowance for symbolism today!

11. 05 am: Kejriwal set to take oath

After a prolonged period of uncertainty, accusations of irresponsibility being thrown around generously by the political players in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party finally came to an uncomfortable understanding with the Congress party and decided to form the government with the latter's support. As soon as the announcement was made, the AAP went on record to declare that if needed they will initiate probes into the allegations of corruption against Congress MLAs including former chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

The Congress, severely divided over the decision to back Kejriwal, retorted saying that their support to the AAP was not 'unconditional'. AAP leaders like Prashant Bhushan too thought aloud if the government and alliance will last for good, given Congress' untrustworthy nature. However, the events finally culminates in Kejriwal being sworn in as the chief minister of Delhi today at the Ramlila Maidan.

Arvind Kejriwal. AFP.

Arvind Kejriwal. AFP.

True to the party's adherence to all things 'aam aadmi' , Kejriwal has already refused the lavish government bungalow that the Delhi CM is entitled to, he has also rejected Z-category security and has declared that he and his MLAs will take the metro to the Ramlila Maidan.

However, PTI reports that security has been beefed up at the Kausambi metro station from where Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and 11 other AAP leaders are slated to take the metro to the Ramlila Maidan at about 11 am.

According to The Indian Express, Kejriwal will also meet transport department officials today shortly after the swearing-in to discuss issues faced by Delhi auto-rickshaw drivers. IE reports:

"The oath-taking ceremony will take place at 12 noon. Kejriwal plans to visit Rajghat before his first cabinet meeting at the Delhi Secretariat. "After taking oath as Delhi's chief minister, I will call a cabinet meeting at 2 pm on Saturday."

He said he will also meet transport department officials on Saturday to discuss problems being faced by auto-rickshaw drivers."

While leaving for the metro station, Kejriwal said, "This battle was not to make Arvind Kejriwal the CM of Delhi. It was the fight of the aam aadmi. This is just the beginning," he said. Asked when he would start actively running the government, Kejriwal said, "Immediately."

Manish Sisodia, minister designate of the AAP, while leaving for the Kausambi metro station, said, "Finally Delhi is getting a government which is committed to listening to the people. This is Delhi's victory."

Saurabh Bhardwaj, a young minister designate of AAP said in a interview to CNN IBN, before the swearing in that he will treat the job of a minister as any new job. "I have to treat it like any new job. Once I get into the space, I will figure out how it works and will also know the best way to perform my duties in due course of time."

This is possibly the second public swearing-in in the history of Delhi's politics. Usually a state cabinet is sworn-in in the Raj Bhavan.

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