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With Kejriwal at helm, AAP to rule Delhi

New Delhi, Dec 23 : AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is set to be Delhi's seventh chief minister after staking claim Monday to take power with Congress backing -- amid vocal doubts about the government's stability.


After a fortnight of deadlock that followed a hung verdict, Kejriwal, 45, announced after meeting Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung that he and his ministers would take oath at the Ramlila Maidan but didn't give a date.

Without acknowledging the support of Congress' eight legislators, a visibly confident Kejriwal asserted that the Aam Aadmi Party, which has 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, had the majority to rule Delhi.

"We are in a majority and we will form the government," he said. "Let the opposition pass a no confidence motion."

Among his first acts, Kejriwal quickly held a "training session" for his 27 legislators, most of whom are first timers in electoral politics.

Later, the activist-turned-politician who had vowed to end the VIP culture in Delhi, told police that he needed no security cover.

Delhi's former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who Kejriwal defeated by over 25,000 votes, gave her "best wishes" to the AAP but said the Congress support would be "conditional".

She gently mocked at the AAP's promise to drastically cut power tariff and provide 700 litres of water daily to all households.

The AAP was invited to form a government after the Bharatiya Janata Party, which finished with 31 seats, declined to do so.

The Congress then announced that its eight legislators would prop up the AAP, which decided to seek people's views on whether or not it should take support from a party it fought against in the election.

That led to a unique five-day referendum where people were asked to say 'yes' or 'no'. Kejriwal declared Monday that a "majority ... wanted us to form the government".

Even as the first steps of government formation were taken, around 1,000 Congress activists protested against their party's decision to support the AAP government.

To add to the confusion, AAP leader Kumar Vishwas made light of the Congress support but admitted that running the government amid uncertainty would be a "challenge".

An engineer by training and a former Indian Revenue Service officer whose social activism won him the Ramon Magsaysay award, Kejriwal didn't say who will be the new chief minister.

But his colleague Manish Sisodia said Kejriwal would hold the top post.

"We fought the elections under his leadership, and all the MLAs had selected him as the chief minister candidate," said Sisodia, who is widely tipped to become a minister.

The BJP accused AAP of joining hands with the "corrupt Congress".

Party leader Harsh Vardhan, who could have been the chief minister had the party formed a government, said: "This is a betrayal of the wishes of the people of Delhi.

"The AAP fought the election on the anti-corruption plank, and now they have taken support from a party that has been completely rejected by the people of Delhi. This proves that AAP is hungry for power," he said.

--IANS (Posted on 23-12-2013)

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