The Delhi election results have heralded a new era in the nation’s politics, three-term chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said at his oath-taking ceremony at Ramlila Maidan on Sunday, an event that was attended by approximately 50,000 people. “The people of Delhi have really delivered a miracle. The whole country has taken note of what you have accomplished here,” Kejriwal said in his speech.
Kejriwal, who recently branded himself as the ‘son’ of Delhi, highlighted that many of the schemes started during his second term in power were being replicated in different states.
“Other state governments are now looking up to mohalla clinics. Recently, the Uttarakhand government announced free electricity on the lines of Delhi,” he said, reiterating his praise for Delhi’s voters for handing his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a massive mandate of 62 seats in 70-member assembly.
Taking on his critics who have hit out over the state government’s policies to provide cheap electricity and water, Kejriwal reminded the audience that the best things in the world come free. “The love and affection of parents towards their children has no price tag on it,” he intoned emotionally.
Remarking upon his patriotic ambition to make India the best country in the world, Kejriwal said in his address that he wanted the country to be ahead of developed nations such as Australia and the US.
“India must reign supreme in the minds of people in Australia. India must be praised in the US,” said Kejriwal, as he swiftly switched from talking about national politics to Delhi’s local politics.
Significantly, AAP is scheduled to hold a meeting of its national executive later in the day to deliberate on a proposal to contest local body elections across the country in the wake of its spectacular election victory.
News agency Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted senior party leader Gopal Rai as saying that the party was actively considering the plan, which would highlight “positive nationalism.”
‘Want PM Modi’s blessings’
While Kejriwal sprinkled his speech with pan-India references, he also publicly sought blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to run a harmonious Centre-state relationship, after five years of acrimony between the two power centres over a host of policy-related issues.
“I want the blessings of Prime Minister Modi,” the Delhi CM said in his address.
His outreach to PM Modi, part of an apparent political strategy, is in stark contrast to his abrupt resignation from the CM post during his first term.
Kejriwal had gone on challenge PM Modi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in 2014, only to lose by a huge margin.
However, Kejriwal appears more mature this time around, a point not lost on political commentators. The AAP convenor has avoided references to PM Modi and has appeared reluctant to attack the PM directly over the last year or so, even as some of his party leaders have not shied away from making their displeasure against the central leadership known.