Symbolising a new politics of hope and people-centric governance in the world’s most populous democracy, Arvind Kejriwal, the engineer-turned-politician, has become the youngest chief minister of Delhi.
In a carnival-like atmosphere with tens of thousands of people cheering him on, the 45-year-old Kejriwal took oath as the seventh chief minister of Delhi December 28 at a sprawling public park in the heart of the city.
Sticking to his austerity mantra and no-frills governance, Kejriwal, wearing his trademark while cap, chose to ride the metro to Ramlila Maidan, the place where he, along with his mentor Anna Hazare, launched a massive anti-corruption movement more than two years ago.
In a country where politics has become synonymous with pomp, profiteering and shameless self-aggrandisement, Kejriwal promised the “15 million citizens of Delhi” that he and his party would try to usher in “alternative politics”, and run a genuine “government of the people.” Stressing that he has no magic wand to solve all problems, he spelt out credo for his fledgling party and the new government in Delhi in his inauguration speech. Never be arrogant, don’t seek or take a bribe, serve people and listen to people – these were some of his chaste instructions to his ministers and party men.
Aam Admi Party(AAP), the party launched by Kejriwal barely a year ago, made a stunning debut in the Delhi polls, winning 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, emerging as the second largest party after the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP).
The BJP, however, decided not to form the government as it did not have the requisite majority in the house. Kejriwal dithered for a while and refused to stake the claim to form the government, but decided to take the plunge after the Congress, which was decimated in the polls with barely eight seats, offered support from outside.
The spectacular victory of Kejriwal, an outsider to the system, has kindled hopes for a new kind of people-centric politics in India, which seeks to place the much-abused common man at the heart of governance and decision-making concerning people’s well-being and uplift. Kejriwal’s austerity mantra has struck a powerful chord with ordinary people of Delhi, also seat of the country’s capital, where the perks and privileges of power have become an end in themselves for the political class. The activist-turned-politician plans to walk the talk and has made it clear that he and his ministers will not avail of lavishly-appointed official bungalows in Lutyen’s Delhi. Kejriwal, for one, will go on living in his fourth-storey flat in the Delhi suburb of Ghaziabad
But the well-meaning Kejriwal has now to back his idealistic postures and fulsome promises like free water and drastic reduction in power tariffs, many of which are seen as economically unviable, with concrete delivery that translates into a visibly improved life for ordinary people of the state. If he fails or loses his way amid the heartless machinery of politics, it will not only discredit him, but it will also be a big blow for millions yearning for a new kind of responsive politics that not only speaks in the name of aam admi, but makes the system work to fructify their all-too-real hopes and dreams.
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