New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder leader Arvind Kejriwal was Monday set to be Delhi’s chief minister after announcing that his party will form a government with Congress backing.
After five days of a referendum when people were asked to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether AAP should take power, Kejriwal announced that an overwhelming majority in the capital had given their thumbs up.
“Majority of the people wanted us to form the government, and now I am going to meet the Lt. Governor to inform him that AAP is ready to form the government in Delhi,” Kejriwal said in nearby Ghaziabad where he lives.
The AAP won 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, and was invited to try form a government after the Bharatiya Janata Party, which finished with 31 seats, declined to do so as it lacked majority support.
The Congress, in a bid to slight the BJP, announced that its eight legislators would prop up the AAP. The AAP then said it would seek public views on whether or not it should take Congress support.
On Monday, the Congress gave its “best wishes” to the AAP and asked it to fulfil the promises it made to the voters. A miffed BJP denounced the AAP decision, terming it a “betrayal of the people”.
Kejriwal, an engineer by training and a former Indian Revenue Service officer whose social activism won him the Ramon Magsaysay award, didn’t say who will be the new chief minister.
But a senior party leader, Manish Sisodia, declared that Kejriwal, who led the one-year-old AAP to a dream debut in the election, will be the chief minister.
“The party had from the beginning projected him (Kejriwal) as our CM candidate. We fought the elections under his leadership, and all the MLAs had selected him as the chief minister candidate,” Sisodia said.
“There are some rumours that someone else might become the chief minister, and Kejriwal might play a different role.
“But the party has decided that he will be the chief minister,” added Sisodia, a senior figure in the AAP who is tipped to become a minister in the new government.
Sisodia added that of the hundreds of thousands who responded to the AAP referendum, around 157,000 people in Delhi, or 74 percent of those who took part in the exercise in the capital, wanted the party to take power.
Besides soliciting responses on the social media and through SMS, the AAP also held some 280 public meetings across Delhi. In 257 of them, the majority voted for an AAP government, he said.
Delhi’s former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who lost to Kejriwal by over 25,000 votes, said the Congress will continue to support the AAP until it fulfils the promises made to the electorate.
BJP leader Harsh Vardhan, who could have been the chief minister had the party formed a government, accused the AAP of joining hands with the “corrupt Congress” in its greed for power.