[QODLink]
South Asia

Kejriwal sworn in as Delhi chief minister

Anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal promises to abolish culture of privilege surrounding the city's politicians.

Last updated: 28 Dec 2013 14:20
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Anti-corruption champion Arvind Kejriwal was sworn in as chief minister of India's national capital region in what supporters hope would mark a turning point in the nation's fraud-ridden politics.

Huge cheers rang out as Kejriwal, who arrived for the ceremony on the city's subway, took the oath for office on Saturday in front of tens of thousands of supporters assembled in a Delhi park wearing white caps emblazoned with Kejriwal's slogan, "I am a common man".

"I will do my duties as a minister honestly, without any fear or bias," Kejriwal said as he took the oath on a flower bedecked dais.

Cries of "Long Live the Aam Admi - Common Man - Party" and "Mother India" rang out from the sea of supporters while some waived placards saying "Today Delhi, Tomorrow the Country."

Spotlight
Follow our special India coverage

Police estimates of the crowd ranged as high as 100,000.

Kejriwal's upstart Aam Admi Party made a stunning electoral debut, winning 28 assembly seats in recent state polls and delivering a stinging defeat to the Congress party which rules at the national level.

"It is the common man's victory," Kejriwal declared ahead of taking the subway to his swearing-in - unprecedented for any Indian dignitary going to an oath-taking ceremony.

"If we all come together then we can can change the country," he said.

The former tax inspector's decision to use public transport echoes his pre-poll promise to end the VIP culture of Delhi's political elite and set a down-to-earth tone for his new administration.

No dignitaries had been formally invited to Ramlila Maidan where Kejriwal was due to take the oath.

The grounds are considered ground zero of India's corruption movement where some of the biggest rallies against a string of government graft scandals were held two years ago.

Some observers believe Kejriwal's victory in Delhi could be mark the start of a national election campaign.

Moral force

Unlike his predecessors, Kejriwal, whose backers range from taxi drivers and teachers to business proprietors and servants, has said he and his ministers will not occupy the sprawling bungalows surrounded by lush lawns built by India's former British colonial rulers.

Kejriwal plans to keep living in his fourth-storey flat in a Delhi suburb.

"He has emerged as a new moral force in Indian politics," said India Today editor-in-chief Aroon Purie in an editorial. "The challenge now is to live up to the expectations of the voters who see him as a saviour."

Kejriwal came to national prominence as an adviser to elderly social activist Anna Hazare, whose anti-corruption drive galvanised the country in 2011.

Kejriwal then went on to found his own party after the two men fell out over strategy. Hazare, now 76, believed the anti-corruption fight should remain non-partisan while Kejriwal felt he should enter the electoral fray.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, tipped to win general elections due by May, came first with 31 seats in the Delhi polls but was short of a majority.

Kejriwal will govern with outside support from Congress, which was reduced to eight seats. 

The rout of Congress in Delhi and three other state polls this month has been seen as a sign that the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has given India three prime ministers since independence in 1947, may be about to lose office on a national scale.

584

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.