Kejriwal to take Metro to Ramlila Maidan
Breaking away from all traditions, Aam Aadmi founder Arvind Kejriwal and his six ministers will take Metro to reach the historic Ramlila Maidan, where he would be sworn-in as the Delhi’s fifth chief minister on Saturday. It was at the same venue that the youngest-ever CM-designate became a nationally-recognised figure in 2011, when he flanked Gandhian Anna Hazare, who fasted for 16 days to demand the new anti-corruption law that has just been cleared by Parliament and has given birth to a national ombudsman or Lokpal.
Sources close to Mr Kejriwal said that he, along with his confidant Manish Sisodia, who will also be his Cabinet colleague, and education secretary Rajendra Kumar, who is all set to become his principal secretary, held a close-door meeting at his Kaushambi residence on Friday afternoon. “The meeting was held to formulate a 24-hour action plan which Mr Kejriwal will follow after taking over as the CM of Delhi.”
Sources said that chief secretary Deepak Mohan Sapolia, who worked very closely with outgoing chief minister Sheila Dikshit, would be one of the first heads to roll in Mr Kejriwal’s regime. It was Mr Sapolia to whom Mr Kejriwal had recently asked to prepare a list of officers against whom cases of corruption were pending in the Delhi government.
Soon after reports about a minister’s staff destroying certain documents was brought to Mr Kejriwal’s notice, he immediately called Mr Sisodia and Mr Rajendra Kumar to his residence. “Mr Kejriwal was very upset over the destruction of some files. He has asked the officers to ensure that all documents are in safe custody,” a AAP leader said. Mr Kejriwal said it was the job of the chief secretary to ensure all documents were in safe custody.
Sources said that the Kejriwal’s Cabinet and legislators would give 48 hours to all officers to start work in an efficient manner in their respective departments. “If the officers fail to deliver, we will act against them,” a senior AAP leader said. “No corrupt officer will be spared. And inefficient officers will also be punished,” a close aide of Mr Kejriwal said.
It is learnt that after the oath-taking ceremony, Mr Kejriwal and AAP legislators would head straight to the Delhi government secretariat. This is the second occasion when the oath ceremony is being held in an open ground. It was late BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma, who replaced the Delhi’s first chief minister Madan Lal Khurana after the hawala scam, who had taken oath at the Chhatarsal stadium in February 1996. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who replaced Mr Verma after the onion crisis, again took oath at Raj Niwas. Even three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit took oath at the Raj Niwas itself.
What makes Saturday’s oath ceremony different from the previous ones is that it is open to all. Except for the top government officials and media professionals, no special invitations have been sent. Even Mr Kejriwal’s family will reportedly sit in the public to watch the ceremony. “Many people are asking me for passes for tomorrow’s oath ceremony. No passes are needed. All are welcome. It’s your programme,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
Sources said that after the oath ceremony, the new Cabinet would decide the date for convening the first session of the fifth Assembly. It is learnt that the Cabinet may recommend a five-day session spread across the first week of January. The AAP government will have to prove its majority in the 70-member Assembly latest by January 3. Mr Kejriwal admitted that he had a huge task on his shoulders. “I realise I have a big responsibility. But we will deliver.”
Mr Kejriwal’s first big challenge would be to deal with a 10 per cent hike in CNG prices, announced on Thursday. Auto drivers in the city, who form a huge section of his supporters, have threatened a strike. The CM-designate said he would see if the hike could be reversed. “If that’s not feasible, auto fares are likely to increase.”
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