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Don’t turn away officials who ask for bribes, but help us trap them: CM Kejriwal to Delhi’s aam aadmi

Anti-corruption champion and Aam Admi (Common Man) Party Leader and new Chief Minister of India's national capital region Arvind Kejriwal (third from right) and his ministers wave after taking their oaths at a ceremony in New Delhi on December 28, 2013, in what supporters hoped would mark a turning point in the nation's graft-ridden politics.

New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) : Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party has rewritten the grammar of politics in Delhi, took oath as Delhi’s Chief Minister on Saturday, promising a corruption-free government and new style of governance without arrogance of power.

Kejriwal, 45, a former Indian Revenue Service official who broke from Anna Hazare's campaign for Lokpal and scored a stunning debut in electoral politics winning 28 of the 70 seats, took the oath of office and secrecy at a public ceremony in the historic Ramlila Maidan, where the anti-corruption campaigners had held their first fast over two years ago.

Six others --- Manish Sisodia, Girish Soni, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain, Saurabh Bharadwaj and Somnath Bharti – also took oath as ministers.

Sporting his trademark Gandhi cap proclaiming that “I am an aam admi', Kejriwal, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, wore a blue pullover over bush shirt and trousers discarding the traditional 'kurta-pyjama' of politicians.

Hazare and his associate Kiran Bedi, who were invited to the function, stayed away, as did several political leaders including outgoing Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Harsh Vardhan, who would be the Leader of the Opposition in the new Assembly, was the lone prominent politician to be present.

In a short speech later, Kejriwal said the Aam Admi Party has come with a promise to provide governance different from the one given by corrupt parties.

“The oath we are taking today is not of Arvind Kejriwal and the other ministers but people of Delhi have taken the oath,” he said.

“The whole fight is not to make Arvind Kejriwal a Chief Minister but it is for a change of governance in Delhi,” he said.

The new Chief Minister said the huge responsibility thrust upon him has instilled a sense of fear in him. “I don't claim to have a magic wand or remedies for all the ills but if the 1.5 crore people of Delhi join him there is no reason why all the problems can't be solved,” he said.

Asking his ministers to adopt service as a motto, Kejriwal cautioned them against getting arrogant with power.

“We should not get arrogant. Don't get arrogant ever. Work for the people with service as the goal. We have not come here to become ministers. We were born to remove the arrogance of big parties. We should be wary that no other party has to take birth to dismantle us,” he said.

Making anti-corruption his main plank, the new Chief Minister asked people not to turn away officials asking bribes but to help in catching them red-handed by laying a trap.

“…do a 'setting'. We will give you a phone number within two days, where you can complain about such bureaucrats and we catch them red-handed,” he said.

Conscious of the minority status of his government, he appealed to all the parties including the BJP and Congress to support his government in all its right steps. However, he made it clear that he was not bothered about the confidence vote the government has to face by January 3, saying he is ready to face the people if it is defeated.

“We will get back to power with a thumping majority,” he said to a thunderous applause from the huge crowd that had gathered from the capital and the surrounding areas in the National Capital Region.

While appealing to people from all political parties including BJP and Congress to support them, Kejriwal referred to BJP's Harshvardhan as an honest man.

“I know Harshvardhan personally and can say that he is a good man, but I can't say about his party. I appeal to other Congress, BJP and other parties. If you feel we are going the right way, forget your parties and support us,” he said.

Talking about his mentor Anna Hazare, Kejriwal said, ”Anna used to say that politics is dirty. Two-and-a-half years back, Annaji held a 13-day fast to remove corruption and to get the Janlokpal bill passed. In these last two years, we did every possible thing. We fasted, agitated but nothing happened. Gradually it became clear that without changing country's politics we cannot get rid of corruption”.

“I used to suggest Anna that if we want to clean the system, then we will have to get down in this 'dirty politics',” he said.

PORTFOLIOS

• Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal: Home, Finance, Vigilance, Power, Planning and Services departments.

• Manish Sisodia: Education, public works, urban development, local bodies, and land and building departments.

• Somnath Bharti: Administrative reforms, Law, Tourism and Culture.

• Rakhi Birla: Social welfare and women and hild Development departments.

• Girish Soni: Labour, development and SC,ST departments.

• Satyendra Jain: Health and Industries departments.

• Saurabh Bhardwaj: Transport, Food and Civil Supplies and Environment.