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Arvind Kejriwal takes oath as chief minister Delhi at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Arvind Kejriwal takes oath as chief minister Delhi at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Day 1 in office: Kejriwal transfers power, finance secretaries, Delhi Jal Board CEO

Kejriwal takes oath as Delhi CM, seeks citizen's support to solve their problems; govt to seek trust vote on 2 January

New Delhi: On its first day in office, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi effected a major bureaucratic reshuffle and transferred nine bureaucrats, including the finance secretary, power secretary and chief executive of Delhi Jal Board.

Delhi Jal Board CEO Debashree Mukherjee has now been posted as the chief managing director of Delhi Transport Corporation. Senior IAS officer Vijay Kumar has been made the new CEO of Delhi Jal Board. Power secretary R.K. Verma, who is also the chairman and managing director of Delhi Transco Ltd and chairman of Pragati Power Corporation Ltd, has been shifted as the principal secretary of higher education. He will also hold charge as the principal secretary, training and technical education. Transport secretary Puneet Goel has been transferred as the power secretary. The principal secretary-cum-commissioner in the development department, Arvind Ray, will hold additional charge in the transport department.

The shifting of Mukherjee and Verma assumes significance in the light of the statement made by chief minister Kejriwal earlier in the day that his government would take a decision on water supply by Monday and on electricity by Tuesday or Wednesday. AAP had promised 700 litres of free water daily to each household along with a reduction by 50% in power tariffs in the city.

The government also said on Saturday that it will seek a vote of confidence on 2 January on the floor of Delhi assembly.

The session of the assembly will begin on 1 January and the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker has been fixed for 3 January, a Delhi government press release said on Saturday after a meeting of the cabinet chaired by chief minister Kejriwal.

Earlier in the day, striking a note of realism after taking oath as the seventh chief minister of Delhi on Saturday at Ramlila Maidan, Kejriwal tried to tone down expectations from his government when he said that he does not carry a magic wand to solve Delhi’s problems. But the 45-year-old leader of the Aam Aadmi Party who started as an anti-corruption crusader and social activist said he was confident of solving them with the help of Delhi’s 15 million citizen.

Almost two-and-a-half-years after social activist Anna Hazare had gone on hunger strike at the same venue to demand the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, Kejriwal asked people to take a vow that they would neither accept nor give bribes to governments servants. “We will come out with a telephone number and people can inform us about government servants who ask for bribe," said Kejriwal.

“I don’t have a solution all the problems. I am not carrying a magic wand but I am confident that if 1.5 crore people of Delhi come together and make an honest effort, all problems can be resolved. Anna Hazare was on fast for 13 days at Ramlila grounds two-and-a-half-years ago; we had asked for Jan Lokpal Bill. We didn’t join politics for post. Oath was not taken by a chief minister and few ministers, but it was taken by all residents of Delhi. The people of this city will together root out corruption," Kejriwal said after taking oath as the chief minister of Delhi.

Six other AAP members, including Manish Sisodia, Somnath Bharti, Satyendra Jain, Rakhi Birla, Girish Soni and Saurabh Bharadwaj, took the oath of office as ministers in the Delhi government.

AAP which didn’t have the requisite number of seats to form a government in the 70-seat assembly, was helped along by the rival Congress party that has offered issue-based support to the new government. The Congress party had got eight seats in the recently concluded Delhi assembly election while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 31 seats and the AAP 28 seats in the 70-seat Delhi assembly.

Arvind Kejriwal waves to the crowd after taking oath. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
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Arvind Kejriwal waves to the crowd after taking oath. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Addressing a huge gathering at the Ramlila Maidan where Hazare was on fast for 13 days in August 2011, Kejriwal told the audience that political parties would create difficulties in his path but he was confident that honest efforts and the truth would prevail in the end. The AAP leader also said that he was not worried about his party having to prove its majority in the Delhi assembly with just 28 MLAs and was confident that the people of Delhi would give AAP a majority if there was a re-election.

“There is something magical happening in Delhi and the entire country. People had lost all hope that things will ever change in this country but first people came together for Jan Lokpal Bill and then for rape victim who was assaulted on 16 December. If confidence motion falls in the assembly, we will come back to people, and I am confident that this time people will give us a majority," Kejriwal added.

Political experts believe that Kejriwal has tried to win over the hearts and minds of people by projecting himself as a god-fearing man while assuring people that he will get their work done.

“Arvind Kejriwal has projected himself as a god-fearing philosopher and Indians love such people. He has made a place in the hearts of the people. When he asked 1.5 crore people to help him solve problems of Delhi, he tried to decentralize the responsibility of change. Kejriwal then tried to win the minds of people when he said that he will get the work done," said Jai Mrug, Mumbai-based political analyst.

Speaking about the floor test where AAP will have to prove that it enjoys a simple majority in the Delhi assembly, Kejriwal urged MLAs of other political parties to follow their hearts to support AAP. “If people of the BJP and Congress think that we are doing the right thing and we are serving the country then they should leave aside their political beliefs and vote for us in the assembly," Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal allocated portfolios to his six colleagues while keeping key departments of home, finance, power and vigilance with himself. They are Satyendra Kumar Jain (health, industries department and gurudwara), Manish Sisodia (education, higher education, PWD, urban development, local bodies, land and building, revenue), Somnath Bharti (administrative reforms, law, tourism, art and culture), Saurabh Bharadwaj (food and supply, transport, environment, election, general administration department), Rakhi Birla (women and child, social welfare, languages) and Girish Soni (SC/ST, employment, development, skill mission and labour).

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