Dressed casually, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal hogged the limelight at a gathering held on the occasion of Republic Day in Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pranab Mukherjee’s official residence.
Soon after Mukherjee greeted the guests and dignitaries, visitors realised Delhi’s new chief minister was among them. Some foreign diplomats could be seen trying to get his attention.
Notwithstanding the President’s speech last Saturday, a crowd soon formed around Kejriwal, with people jostling to get closer and introduce themselves.
Some asked him questions about his sit-in dharna. He patiently explained the motive behind it and defended his law minister Somnath Bharti.
As one group of people left, another gathered. And even after most of the guests left, Kejriwal was busy talking to people.
Asked about the President’s Republic Day address in which Mukherjee had said populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance”, Kejriwal replied, “Let’s have a debate on the subject”.
The President’s remark is being interpreted as an apparent criticism of the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) style of functioning.
There were some people taking photographs of the chief minister on their mobile phones.
Among those clicking Kejriwal’s snaps was Kazi Aasif-uddin, a Congress functionary from Madhya Pradesh.
He admitted he was an admirer of the Delhi chief minister.
Kejriwal was not the only AAP leader there.
Bharti, who has drawn flak for his midnight raid to expose an alleged drug and sex racket in south Delhi, walked in a little later and attracted crowds.