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Arvind sets clock ticking on free water

New Delhi, Dec. 25: Arvind Kejriwal today said he would start delivering on the promises made by his party within 24 hours of assuming office on Saturday.

“We will work on the supply of water within 24 hours. We are also working on the reduction of power tariff,” Kejriwal said, soon after it was announced that he would be sworn in as chief minister on December 28 at the Ramlila Maidan.

The AAP manifesto promises to provide 700 litres free daily to every home with water connection in Delhi. However, if the usage exceeds 700 litres a day, the consumers will have to pay for the entire quantity.

According to the Planning Commission, the per capita average consumption of water in the middle-income group in Delhi is 150 litres per day. That would suggest a family of four might consume 600 litres a day and can stay below the 700-litre radar if they keep a close watch on the taps.

For such a family, the monthly bill usually comes between Rs 150 and Rs 200. Calcuttans will be bemused by the 700-litre cut-off and the calculations as they have been getting for free the entire water they consume daily.

Asked about the constraints in implementing populist schemes, Kejriwal referred to the anti-corruption crusade.

“Every step so far has been difficult. It is not an easy fight. It is a freedom struggle,” he said and invited everyone to assemble at Ramlila Maidan to “achieve our dream of corruption-free India”.

Kejriwal will be sworn in along with six other ministers at noon at the Ramlila Maidan, the nerve centre of Anna Hazare’s fast over the Jan Lokpal bill.

Kejriwal had desired to take the oath of office tomorrow when he called on Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung last Monday and staked claim to form the government. But the window became too narrow after the proposal for the swearing-in was cleared by the President yesterday.

After approving the proposal, the President left it to Jung to finalise the date of the ceremony. Kejriwal has been asked to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly within seven days (January 3) from the date he takes the oath of office.

“The oath-taking ceremony on Saturday at 12 noon. I appeal to all Delhiites to join,” Kejriwal tweeted after the swearing-in date was announced. “All of u came to Ramlila Maidan in Aug 2011. We again assemble at Ramlila Maidan. Together, we’ll achieve our dream of corruption-free India,” he tweeted.

Asked about differences in the Congress over supporting his government, Kejriwal said he was not bothered whether the party “supports or does not support” his government.

“We had not sought support from anyone. We are here to implement the promises we have made to the people of Delhi,” he said.

AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav said the party was not bothered about the survival of the government but pointed out that the Congress, being a seasoned party, would not act in haste and pull out.

The Congress today said that despite differences in the party, it would extend outside support to the AAP government. “We are supporting the manifesto of the AAP at least in the coming time or whatever we have committed to the lieutenant governor. The party will stand by it,” Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said.

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, however, sought to caution the new government against resorting to political vendetta by hounding former ministers.

“If it tries to do things with vendetta in mind, we will definitely raise our voice,” Lovely said, responding to reports that the AAP government would pass the Delhi Lokayukta bill within 15 days of assuming office and refer to it corruption cases against former Congress ministers.

No rift: MLA

Kejriwal said MLA Vinod Kumar Binny, a former Congressman who had walked out of a meeting yesterday after coming to know that he was not among the probable ministers, was not interested in a berth.

“Binny came to me last evening. He told me he does not want a ministerial berth and that he was here for a mission. Binny said he has conveyed to the media that he was not upset,” said Kejriwal.

Binny told PTI that he was not angry and that there was no rift in the party.