A date with Delhi on Valen­tine’s Day

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTMETRO - Gu­lam Jee­lani and Ashish Mishra htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI : As the guests set­tled in their seats in­side the packed hall, the com­père re­called how a “love af­fair” be­tween the Aam Aadmi Party and the peo­ple of Delhi be­gan on the Valen­tine’s Day three years ago. She was re­fer­ring to Fe­bru­ary 14, 2015 when the AAP stormed to power in the na­tional Cap­i­tal.

“To­day, when we are cel­e­brat­ing Valen­tine’s Day, we are here to com­mem­o­rate the love af­fair that started three years ago,” she said.

Chief Min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal and his coun­cil of min­is­ters had gath­ered at the NDMC au­di­to­rium on Jai Singh Road for an out­reach ses­sion by tak­ing ques­tions and feed­back through phone calls, so­cial me­dia and email.

Af­ter re­ply­ing to first ques­tion on park­ing woes in Delhi, Ke­jri­wal blushed when a Delhi Univer­sity girl, Kri­tika, greeted him “Happy Valen­tine’s Day” on phone be­fore ask­ing him whether he had a mes­sage for the young peo­ple in the cur­rent at­mos­phere of “ha­tred”.

The chief min­is­ter smiled and said,“nafrat ka jawab nafrat nahi hai...nafrat ko pyaar se hi counter kia ja sakta hai (hate can be coun­tered by l ove only),”ke­jri­wal said, urg­ing peo­ple to stand against di­vi­sive pol­i­tics.

“No­body should stay silent,” he said.

Af­ter in­tro­duc­tory re­marks by the chief sec­re­tary, An­shu Prakash, Ke­jri­wal went back in time over what he called Delhi’s ex­per­i­ment with pol­i­tics that paved the way for a “po­lit­i­cal earth­quake”.

“Usu­ally, one ded­i­cates his en­tire life to pol­i­tics to be­come an MLA. But, de­fy­ing the con­ven­tional prac­tices, three years ago, Del­hi­ites voted for AAP and elected leg­is­la­tors who were or­di­nary peo­ple from their neigh­bour­hood and gave us an un­prece­dented man­date – 67 out of 70 seats,” Ke­jri­wal said to a round of ap­plause.

“Mod­ern, vi­brant, pol­lu­tion­free, smart Delhi is my dream,” he said.

Ke­jri­wal’s deputy Man­ish Siso­dia also won ap­plause when he pointed out that some male MLAS in the au­di­ence should give a seat to Shal­i­mar Bagh MLA Ban­dana Ku­mari, who was stand­ing in the crowd.

A per­son rose from the mid­dle row and of­fered a seat to Ku­mari, earn­ing a thank you from the min­is­ter.

In his speech, Siso­dia listed his gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ments in ed­u­ca­tion and fi­nance, say­ing that Delhi’s rev­enue col­lec­tion has in­creased even as coun­try’s GDP re­duced.

“What else can we do to prove how hon­est we are,” he said.

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