Anti-corruption crusader sworn in as Delhi chief

AP News
Posted: Dec 28, 2013 5:45 AM
Anti-corruption crusader sworn in as Delhi chief

NEW DELHI (AP) — Tens of thousands of people cheered Saturday as an anti-corruption crusader who heads a new political party vowing to uproot graft from Indian politics was sworn in as the chief minister of India's capital.

Aam Aadmi, or the Common Man's Party, won 28 of Delhi's 70 assembly seats in elections held earlier this month, paving the way for its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, to take office. Kejriwal, a former civil servant, campaigned to rid Delhi's government of corruption and inefficiency.

The Congress Party, which ruled Delhi for three terms before Kejriwal's upstart party trounced it in the elections, has thrown its support behind Aam Aadmi.

On Saturday, crowds of supporters and curious onlookers thronged Delhi's Ramlila Maidan park to watch as Kejriwal and six other ministers took over the reins of the capital city.

The fledgling party's success stems from its focus on eliminating corruption that plagues all levels of India's government, from top officials and ministers to minor bureaucrats demanding bribes for basic services.

The party's symbol — a broom— and its promise to sweep the administration of graft struck a chord with Delhi residents fed up with venal politicians, runaway inflation and slowing economic growth. The Congress party has been blamed for widespread corruption.

Kejriwal, 45, traveled to the ceremony by public transport, using Delhi's underground metro service in keeping with his promise to end the city's notorious VIP culture. Delhi's politicians have earned the wrath of the people through the use of sirens and red beacon lights atop their cars that allow them to cut through the city's gridlocked roads.

Addressing the crowds soon after taking office, Kejriwal said his year-old party's overwhelming success in the elections was due to the people's growing anger over corruption.

"This is a huge victory for the people of Delhi," Kejriwal said to loud applause. "The people of Delhi have shown that elections can be fought and won with honesty."