New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal and his six ministers took oath today at a mega ceremony at Ramlila Maidan, outside Delhi’s iconic Red Fort, that was attended by a huge crowd. Mr Kejriwal’s key ministers — Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Kailash Gehlot, Imran Hussain and Rajendra Gautam – will be part of his new cabinet. Dedicating his victory to the people, Mr Kejriwal, in his address, said, “Elections are over now. No matter who you voted for, you are part of my family.Party affiliations never stopped me from working for anyone”. Delhi has re-elected Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party with 62 seats – a near repeat of its 2015 tally of 67 seats — at the end of one of the most polarising campaigns in the backdrop of the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests.
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“During the campaign, politics happen and it did happen. I forgive you for all the things you have said against me, I request you also to forget all negative things. We have to work together for the progress of Delhi. We will work with the Centre too,” Mr Kejriwal said in his address at the Ramlila Maidan.
In a tweet this morning, Mr Kejriwal asked the people of Delhi to bless their son. “Taking oath today for the third time as the Delhi CM. Please come to Ramlila Maidan to bless your son,” his tweet in Hindi read.
No new ministers are likely to be added to the Delhi cabinet, sources said, amid speculation that new faces like Atishi and Raghav Chadha may be included this time.
The old team – Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Kailash Gehlot, Imran Hussain and Rajendra Gautam – were appointed ministers, said an official notification from President Ram Nath Kovind’s office yesterday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to the ceremony, but skipped it to visit his constituency, Varanasi. BJP MPs and MLAs from Delhi have also been invited.
AAP said no chief minister or political leader from other states will be part of the event as it will be a “Delhi-specific” ceremony. With front-page advertisements in newspapers, the AAP chief has urged invited residents of the city to the ceremony.
The Delhi Police made elaborate security arrangements for the event, posting 2,000 to 3,000 personnel, among whom are CRPF and other paramilitary troops. Drones are likely to be used for surveillance. Traffic regulations have been put in place in the area adjoining Ramlila Maidan from 8 am to 2 pm.
On the eve of the oath ceremony, Mr Kejriwal called a dinner meeting of his ministers-designate to discuss the roadmap for the next five years, especially the initiatives that need to be prioritised in the coming three months, according to party functionaries.
Delhi’s iconic Ramlila Maidan, which served as the battleground for the 51-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician during the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement, was dressed up for the event. Big banners with messages like “Dhanyawad Dilli (Thank You Delhi)” along with the image of the AAP chief were put up on Saturday.
In 2015 too, Mr Kejriwal’s oath-taking ceremony took place at the Ramlila Maidan. It was held on February 14, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. In 2013 after his party’s first poll victory, the swearing-in ceremony was again held at the same venue.