Free Press Journal

Ramlila Maidan spruced up for Kejriwal


New Delhi: Exactly a year after he resigned and went into near oblivion, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi’s chief minister again here in Ramlila Maidan watched by tens of thousands of cheering supporters. Officials say the ground, in the heart of Delhi, has been spruced up thoroughly for Kejriwal, 46, and his ministers to take the oath of office and secrecy — for a second time after December 2013.

The event is expected to begin at 11 a.m. Kejriwal confidant Manish Sisodia is expected to take oath as the deputy chief minister along with five more ministers. With Kejriwal, who led the Aam Aadmi Party to a landslide win in the Delhi assembly election, urging people to attend the oath taking in large numbers, the venue will have half a dozen entry gates.

Some 30,000 chairs have been placed in neat columns almost till the end of the ground, which often hosts major political rallies. Tens of thousands more are expected to stand and witness Kejriwal and his ministers take oath. More than 100,000 people attended the 2013 event.

Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung will give the oath to the new government of the AAP, which wiped out the Congress and left the BJP with just three of 70 seats in the house. The AAP bagged an incredible 67 seats. Flowers and plants have been placed around the main stage, adding colour to the ambience, official Shyam Singh told IANS.

“It’s all so fresh that I just could not believe that it is the same old Ramlila Maidan I see every day,” Rehman, a nearby resident, said. Drinking water will be available in plenty. Dustbins and temporary toilets have also been erected. Big screens have been placed on the ground for people standing afar to witness the event.

Providing security will be men from Delhi Police, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. “Over 5,000 security personnel will be deployed,” a police official told IANS. A large number of CCTV cameras have come up. A private security agency told IANS that 25 cameras and Automatic Licence Plate Reading system had been put up.

“This system will help us identify vehicles trying to enter the venue any time,” one of its officials said. Barricades painted green will keep public inflow and outflow in order. “The work will go on till late today evening as there’s still a lot to be done,” a municipal official said.

Huge power generators will produce power if needed. A special stage will accommodate an army of Indian and foreign journalists who will cover the event. Kejriwal took oath the last time at the same venue after his AAP won a stunning 28 seats in its maiden election.

Kejriwal then presided over a Congress-backed government but resigned after just 49 days, earning widespread criticism. The AAP then fought some 400 Lok Sabha seats but won just four. Since then, Kejriwal painstakingly rebuilt the AAP, which finally emerged a big winner in the Feb 7 Delhi election.