Arvind Kejriwal to take oath as CM on Saturday, says no rift in party3 min read . Updated: 20 Jan 2014, 05:22 PM IST
Kejriwal plays down reports of a rift over cabinet berths, says party MLA Binny not upset over his non-inclusion
New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will be sworn into office in Delhi on 28 December which, either by design or coincidence, happens to be the date the Indian National Congress (INC), the party it ousted from power in state assembly elections this month, was founded 128 years ago.
AAP leader and chief ministerial designate Arvind Kejriwal and six cabinet colleagues will take the oath of office at a public ceremony at the Ramlila Ground, marking the inauguration of the capital’s first non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
The date for the swearing-in was decided after Delhi’s chief secretary Deepak Mohan Spolia met Kejriwal on Wednesday to discuss details of the ceremony.
The choice of venue for the ceremony is also interesting because Ramlila Ground is the site of the 13-day hunger strike staged in 2011 by Kejriwal’s mentor Anna Hazare in an anti-corruption crusade, of which AAP is an offshoot. The two men parted ways over Kejriwal’s decision to venture into politics.
The cabinet ministers to be inducted include Manish Sisodia, Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Girish Soni and Satendra Jain—people who have been associated with the Kejriwal campaign to cleanse public life.
AAP will be dependent on the ‘outside support’ of the Congress for survival in office, having won eight seats fewer than the 36 it needed for a simple majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly. The BJP in alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal won 32 seats and the Congress, which ruled Delhi for three consecutive terms under Sheila Dikshit, eight, in the 4 December assembly elections.
As the party discussed portfolio allocation on Wednesday, it also resolved a flare-up of dissent reported by television channels late on Tuesday night. The reports said Vinod Kumar Binny, an AAP legislator, was upset over not getting a cabinet berth and walked out of a meeting with Kejriwal. On Wednesday, both Kejriwal and Binny denied the reports.
“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," Kejriwal told reporters.
“There is no rift between me and the party," Binny told the Press Trust of India, adding that it was the “prerogative" of the party chief to allocate ministerial posts.
AAP said it would push its 18-point agenda, which includes promises to provide 700 litres of water per day free to each household and to halve the price of electricity, in the Delhi assembly.
“We will go to the floor of the Assembly and try to push each of the 18 issues which have brought us to where we are and we would expect that given the nature of these issues, and how much they matter to the country and to the people of Delhi, we would have the support of the majority on the floor of the House. If we don’t have, we would move out," AAP leader Yogendra Yadav told reporters.
Already in a governance mode, Kejriwal held a ‘Janta Darbar’, or people’s court, on Wednesday at his Ghaziabad residence and listened to the grievances or suggestions of the public.
Kejriwal reiterated that his government would bring the Jan Lokpal Bill, the party’s version of the legislation to establish an anti-graft ombudsman, within 15 days of forming a government.
“We expect many obstructions to come in the government’s way but we will take them head-on. Earlier they had challenged us to fight election. Then they said ‘aam aadmi’ cannot run government. We will run government in a better manner," he said.
Meanwhile, in another breather for AAP, the Congress on Tuesday said that there was no re-think on supporting the one-year-old party.
“We are supporting the manifesto of 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 told reporters.
PTI contributed to this story.