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    Dec 30, 2013

    New Delhi chief rides subway to take office


    DELHI'S new chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took the metro to his inauguration on Saturday, where he was sworn in before tens of thousands.

    He went straight to work after that, calling two Cabinet meetings and working for six hours, India papers that breathlessly track his every move reported.

    Yesterday, having already received feedback from more than 150 people, he asked for 10 days to set up a system to address the grievances of the people of Delhi, NDTV said.

    The day before, two hours after he took his oath, he transferred nine senior bureaucrats, met the police commissioner and other senior officials, and announced the six members of his Cabinet.

    "He's a simple man, a workaholic. He rises at 4.30 and goes on until 11.30 at night," Mayank Gandhi, a new minister, told NDTV news channel.

    Earlier on Saturday, he vowed to arrest anyone in his government, from police officer to bureaucrat, who demanded a bribe.

    "Within two days, I will announce a phone number, and if anybody asks for a bribe, please complain by that phone number and that person will be arrested red-handed," Delhi's youngest chief minister, 45, said shortly after taking the oath of office.

    Mr Kejriwal, a former tax commissioner, travelled to Saturday's ceremony by subway, eschewing the vast motorcades of his predecessors. He has vowed to do away with Delhi's culture of privileges for the powerful.

    In contrast with past chief ministers whose swearing-in ceremonies were held at the state assembly among small, select audiences of the powerful, he took the oath of office in Ramlila Maidan, an open area where he participated in mass anti-corruption protests several years before.

    A spokesman for his party said the police had estimated the crowd at 100,000.

    Mr Kejriwal announced this week that he would not travel in one of the cars with flashing lights that allow high-ranking officials to zip through Delhi's oppressive traffic.

    He also said he would not accept a security detail or live in one of the sumptuous houses at New Delhi's core that India's elite have occupied since the British abandoned them in 1947.

    Amid growing public anger over India's widespread corruption, Mr Kejriwal last year formed the Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, Party, which shocked India's two largest and most solidly established parties this month by winning 28 of the 70 seats in Delhi's state assembly.

    He became the state's leader after the Indian National Congress Party, which won eight seats, agreed to support him.

    He will be a force to be reckoned with as he promised to expand his movement across the country.