Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was the cynosure of all eyes at President Pranab Mukherjee’s ‘At Home’ hosted on Republic Day at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Sunday. With a scarf wrapped around his neck, in quintessential Kejriwal-style, he interacted with officials, guests and reporters. He answered their questions, signed autographs and even accepted brickbats for his recent two-day protest in the Capital.
While the reporters sought his views on the mention of “anarchy” in the President’s address on Republic Day eve, the guests mostly had words of praise for the newly appointed Chief Minister. A few wasted no time to pour out a list of complaints. Mr. Kejriwal patiently answered questions, thanked people for their support, gave an explanation for the hard-line approach his colleagues adopted and lent an ear to words of advice. He did not lose his poise even when some guests were vociferous in their criticism of his politics. “I don’t think what we are doing is anarchy, but this a democracy and everyone is entitled to their view,” he told The Hindu. On his interaction with the President he said: “We just wished each other…we haven’t had a chance to talk so far.”
Guests queued up to greet Mr. Kejriwal, who was accompanied by his wife and cabinet colleagues Manish Sisodia, Somanth Bharti and Rakhi Birla.
One of the guests who turned up with a request for an appointment was Germany’s Ambassador to India Michael Steiner. He was heard telling Mr. Kejriwal that President Joachim Gauck, who is scheduled to visit India, would like an interaction with him. However, the Aam Aadmi Party office declined the meeting.
President Mukherjee, who is known to step out of his security cover to greet guests, was seen mingling with the crowds. Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe, Guest of Honour at the Parade, also interacted with the guests.
Other dignitaries at the ‘At Home’ included Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers A.K. Antony, Salman Khurshid and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.