Kejriwal to take oath as Delhi CM for 3rd time on Feb 16; likely to retain his old team


NEW DELHI, Feb 12: AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, who spearheaded the party's landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly polls, will take oath as the chief minister for the third consecutive time in a grand public ceremony on February 16 at the Ramlila Maidan here, amid indications all the outgoing ministers will be retained in the seven-member Cabinet.
The oath-taking ceremony at 10 am at the very same historic ground from where 51-year-old Kejriwal along with Gandhian Anna Hazare led a massive anti-corruption agitation in 2011 that became a launching board for his political career is expected to be attended by people in large numbers. All the newly-elected party MLAs have being asked by party leaders to ensure huge participation from their constituencies, according to party sources on Wednesday.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 62 seats in the 70-member Assembly with the BJP accounting for the remaining 8 and the Congress drawing a blank.
Addressing a press conference at the AAP headquarters, senior party leader Manish Sisodia, who was the deputy chief minister in the outgoing government, said the cabinet ministers will also take oath along with Kejriwal.
The possible induction of young first-time MLAs Raghav Chadha and AtishiMarlena was a subject of much speculation.
But AAP sources told PTI that the party chief is unlikely to tinker with the existing combination and is set to retain all the incumbent ministers. The sources said the portfolios of the ministers will be decided later.
Besides Kejriwal and Sisodia, the other ministers in the outgoing Cabinet were Rajendra Pal Gautam, Satyendar Jain, Kailash Gahlot, Gopal Rai and Imran Hussain. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers. Kejriwal had a 15-minute meeting with Baijal earlier in the day, an official said.
An AAP functionary said the party has planned a mass mobilisation of people for the mega event on Sunday and all newly-elected party MLAs asked to ensure huge participation from their constituencies.
The Congress' abysmal showing triggered a blame game within the party, with local leader Sharmishtha Mukherjee taking on its veteran P Chidambaram, who had welcomed the AAP win as "defeat of bluff and bluster".
She asked the former union minister if the state Congress units should shut shop in case the party had decided that others will take on the BJP across states.
"With due respect sir, just want to know- has Congress outsourced the task of defeating BJP to state parties? If not, then why r we gloating over AAP victory rather than being concerned abt our drubbing? And if 'yes', then we (PCCs) might as well close shop! asked Mukherjee.
Sharmishtha is the daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, who has been a Congress leader all his life. AICC Delhi in-charge PC Chacko sought to put the blame of the party's decline on late Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, saying the party started losing ground in 2013. Dikshit was chief minister of Delhi at the time. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said one of the things which people look to in state elections is a "leader who can deliver".
He, however, said that in terms of popularity in national politics, no one is close to Prime Minister NarendraModi.
As the BJP analysed the reasons for the defeat, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said neither has he offered to step down nor has he been asked to resign from the post. Sources, however, claimed that Tiwari had contacted a top party functionary and offered to step down as the Delhi unit chief.
"Neither have I been asked to resign nor have I offered my resignation," Tiwari told reporters.
On Tuesday, addressing a press conference after the announcement of poll results, Tiwari said whether he continues as Delhi BJP chief or steps down is an "internal matter" of the party. Lauding the voters at his media interaction, Sisodia said, "Heartiest congratulations to the people of Delhi. They have given huge respect to the politics of work."
"I request the people of Delhi to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the chief minister at the RamlilaMaidan in large numbers," Sisodia said, adding that ceremony will take place at 10 am. Kejriwal took oath as the chief minister twice before from the same venue.
Taking a dig at the BJP, whose campaign, the opposition alleged, revolved around emotive issues such as ShaheenBagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Sisodia said people rejected "politics of hatred".
"Work done by Kejriwal is a model of development. It has proved that patriotism means good education for your children and working for the welfare of people."
Earlier in they day, Kejriwal held a meeting with the newly-elected MLAs at his official residence. The MLAs elected Kejriwal the Leader of Legislature Party, which was a mere formality that was necessary for him to stake claim to form the government.

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