Arvind Kejriwal,star attraction at President’s Home

kejri-27NEW DELHI: He was one of the 4,500 guests but Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, in his maiden outing at President Pranab Mukherjee’s ‘At Home’, stole the show.
Wearing his trademark maroon sweater, muffler and floaters, Kejriwal stood in the sprawling Mughal Gardens as India’s swish set vied for autographs, pictures and sometimes just a handshake with him.It was a power moment that no one in the establishment may have imagined. Two years ago, Kejriwal had negotiated with Mukherjee, chairman of the joint drafting committee, on the Lokpal bill and had returned empty-handed. On Saturday, the two displayed a public difference of opinion. Mukherjee spoke against “populist anarchy” and Kejriwal defended his dharna as constitutional. On Sunday, as Mukherjee gave an audience to invitees from the world of diplomacy, politics, administration, arts and media, Kejriwal held a parallel durbar.
Men and women showered him with unabashed praise. Several ambassadors and bureaucrats took the opportunity to introduce themselves to Kejriwal who was accompanied by his Cabinet. German ambassador Michael Steiner sought a meeting with Kejriwal for German President Joachim Gauck who is visiting India next month. The request, it emerges, was turned down by the CM’s office. Kejriwal assured him that it would be rescheduled. Another diplomat shared a joke, saying how his broken Hindi left him confused about the party’s name initially (he thought aam only meant mango).The power elite gave up its pretensions, some offered him advice and encouragement, some said they were inspired and others sought his time. The CM even received a muffler as a present. The argumentative asked why he had sat in the VIP enclosure at the Republic Day parade or why his party’s name had no mention of the “aam aurat”. To them all, Kejriwal gave a patient ear. In fact, the AAP durbar went on well after the President and the PM had left the venue till security personnel stepped in to guide Kejriwal to the exit.
Mukherjee too was his accessible self, meeting people gathered in the Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns. Visiting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe also met the invitees.
Later, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj got up from their chairs in the VIP enclosure and mixed with the crowd.
Other dignitaries present were Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, besides BJP leaders L K Advani and Arun Jaitley. Cabinet ministers P Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily and A K Antony were also present.
Sources said close to 4,500 people had turned up. Rashtrapati Bhavan had issued e-invites this year and the entrances were manned by bar-code scanning personnel. About 60% of the invites were sent out through e-mail, bringing down costs and resources as part of Rashtrapati Bhavan’s greening exercise.
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