A warning here to the Congress about any no-confidence motion, a request there to his party-workers to not let arrogance colour their life of service, and finally a repeat-after-me vow for all the tens of thousands gathered: We will not take a bribe, we will not give a bribe. And then a song, sung by the Chief Minister of Delhi, repeated line for line by an adoring crowd of supporters. The swearing-in of the Indian capital's seventh chief minister could not have been more unexpected, more historical.
In an unconventional move, Kejriwal addressed the crowds at Ram Lila Maidan soon after he and his Cabinet members were sworn in.
Unusual for chief ministers but completely expected of Kejriwal, he made those present take a vow of never accepting nor ever giving a bribe. "We must promise we will never give or take bribes," Kejriwal said. "I promise I will never give bribes or take bribes," he said and asked people to repeat after him.
Smilingly, he continued, if you go to an official and you're asked to pay a bribe, don't refuse, do your "setting" with them." The AAP would announce a centralised telephone number to receive complaints about corrupt officials who would then be nabbed red-handed, he said.
Kejriwal remained the anti-neta too, not only calling the swearing-in ceremony the anointment of every aam aadmi as a ruler but also continuing to take on traditional opponents, the parties steeped in corruption.
Wisely, however, the chief minister chose not to alienate the bureaucracy. "It's not true that the bureaucracy is completely corrupt," Kejriwal said. "I have no hesitation in saying that I have interacted with several officials over the past two days and I believe there are many who are honest and talented."
Given that it is the bureaucracy that actually does the work of implementation even if Kejriwal and his ministers will have the luxury of polic-drafting, garnering the support of babus will be critical for the day-to-day functioning of the government, as Dhiraj Nayyar has argued on Firstpost earlier.
Kejriwal also spoke briefly on speculations that his government will be a short-lived one. "Much is being said about the confidence vote. But we are not concerned about the confidence vote. We will seek the support of the other parties for our policies and decisions. If we lose support we will return to the people of Delhi and if there is a repoll, I am confident that the people will vote the Aam Aadmi Party to power with a big majority."
He chose to mention the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Dr Harsh Vardhan too, a man widely considered a very clean and committed politician. "I know him to be a very good human, although I don't know about his party," Kejriwal said, in an apparent move to reach out to politicians willing to show commitment to serving Delhi.
A 'wave of miracles' is sweeping through the country over the past two years, he said, trying to explain the events leading up to Saturday's historical swearing in ceremony at which the chief minister repeatedly said he was a "nobody, a common man". Referring to the December 16, 2012, gangrape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi, Kejriwal said, "There have been rapes before, but the reaction to this incident was unprecedented." The anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare, the fast unto death for a Jan Lokpal Bill and the massive popular support for that movement were all part of a miraculous wave sweeping through India, he said. "I am confident that the country will once again be called a sone-ki-chidiya (golden sparrow)" he said.
Ending with a Manna Dey song from the Bollywood film Paigham, Insaan se insaan ka ho bhaichara, he played to the gallery a bit, reiterating an old message of the Aam Aadmi Party: "Har ek mahal se kaho ke/ Jhopdiyo me diye jalaye/Chhoto aur bado me ab/Koi phrak nahi rah jaye.(There should be no differences between rich and poor, from palace should resound the message, lamps should light up huts)".
Updated Date: Dec 28, 2013 15:18:33 IST