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Kejriwal, six others to take oath Saturday

New Delhi, Dec 25 : Arvind Kejriwal, who led the one-year-old AAP to a spectacular election victory, will take oath Saturday as Delhi's seventh chief minister at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan.


The 45-year-old activist-turned-politician will take oath along with six other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators at a ceremony at 12 noon, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people.

The AAP's proposed ministers are Manish Sisodia, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain and Girish Soni.

Making the announcement, AAP leader Kumar Vishwas said: "We have requested the Lt. Governor (Najeeb Jung) that we want to take oath on Dec 28 (Saturday), and he has agreed."

The decision to opt for Dec 28, instead of the earlier Dec 26, was taken at a meeting of party leaders at Kejriwal's house near Delhi.

Vishwas said the AAP had invited Gandhian activist Anna Hazare, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and former police officer Kiran Bedi for the swearing in.

The Ramlila Maidan was where Hazare undertook a 12-day anti-corruption fast in 2011 with Kejriwal as one of his aides, triggering mass solidarity protests across India.

Hegde and Bedi were part of that campaign. Kejriwal, who formed the AAP in November last year, has since had a fallout with Hazare and Bedi.

Earlier, Kejriwal denied that there was any rift within the AAP over the proposed cabinet.

Two-time municipal councillor Vinod Kumar Binny had walked out of a party meeting Tuesday where the decision on cabinet ministers was taken -- after he was not included in the ministry.

This triggered intense speculation overnight that he was upset and may revolt.

Kejriwal said: "Binny met me in the evening (Tuesday) and informed me that he did not want any post. He told the same thing to the media."

Binny, who had defeated Delhi Health Minister A.K. Walia, also said he was not upset on being denied a cabinet berth.

Magsaysay award winner Kejriwal defeated three-time chief minister Shiela Dikshit, who had governed Delhi for 15 long years, in the New Delhi constituency by over 25,000 votes.

In the elections, the AAP got 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, stunning friends and foes. The Congress was routed, winning only eight seats. The BJP finished with the maximum of 31 seats but did not form a government saying it lacked the numbers to govern.

Kejriwal staked claim to form the government Monday after a five-day referendum where people voted 'yes' or 'no' over taking outside support from the Congress.

Although the Congress extended outside support to the AAP, divisions emerged within. Many activists protested against the decision and burnt an effigy of Kejriwal outside the Congress office.

On Wednesday, however, Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit denied there was any re-think on propping up an AAP government.

Born in Haryana and now residing at Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh adjoining Delhi, the IIT-Kharagpur graduate in mechanical engineering has refused Z-plus security and an official bungalow allotted to the chief minister.

--IANS (Posted on 25-12-2013)

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