Know Arvind Kejriwal
The angry crusader, the game changer, the new face of Indian politics – mention these epithets and they automatically get accrued to Arvind Kejriwal, who has quickly risen on the Indian politics graph since late 2012.
For one who believes that “change begins with small things”, Kejriwal has embarked upon a rather tough mission of making India corruption-free through the more popular means of seeking public support – standing for elections. Is he a prime ministerial candidate? He has clearly denied this in several recent events. Of late, he is being projected as the probable chief ministerial candidate for Delhi in the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections. Then what is he? Let’s get a grip.
An average, bespectacled Indian with a soft demeanour, Arvind Kejriwal, born in Siwani, Haryana on August 16, 1968, began his career with Tata Steel after graduating in mechanical engineering from IIT, Kharagpur, in 1989. This was not to hold his interest too long, for he left the same in 1992 to have a shot at the Indian Civil Services exam. Kejriwal successfully entered the Indian Revenue Services and began service in the New Delhi Income tax department.
Kejriwal soon married Sunita, an IRS officer herself; they now have a daughter and a son. Kejriwal is a vegetarian and likes watching Aamir Khan’s movies and other comedies. He has also authored a book, Swaraj, that came out in 2012, in both English and Hindi.
Doing Social Service
In 2000, Kejriwal quit his IRS job and gave vent to the feelings of social activism and started an NGO, Parivartan, at Kaushambi, to take up social root causes against corruption, change in the field of education, and the public distribution system in India. Kejriwal strongly feels that political corruption is one root cause of corruption in the country as can be seen from the various scams involving political figures that have been exposed by the media.
Kejriwal himself had met several social activists and personalities like Mother Teresa and was impressed by their vision and thoughts early on. Soon enough in the public eye, Arvind Kejriwal gathered many followers. He was awarded for his initiatives with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award for Emerging Leadership in 2006. He was also able to meet and garner ample support from Anna Hazare who was rising as an anti-corruption activist and had taken up the cudgels at that time. The two joined hands along with others like Kiran Bedi, the Bhushans, etc to spring up the momentum of the anti-corruption movement. Kejriwal became the architect of the Jan Lokpal Bill movement aiming to help bring citizen ombudsmanship into the system and a strong RTI (Right to Information) system in the country.
New Chapter in Kejriwal’s Life
However, the movement began to lose steam over slow-progressing talks with other political parties, as Anna’s team sought an all-powerful Lokpal, which could, in many cases, override even the Prime Minister. Arvind Kejriwal in an effort to rejuvenate it, sought to take public support through the political route. This brought in major differences in opinions between Anna, who did not want to politicalise the movement and Kejriwal, who thought otherwise. The two parted ways and thus Kejriwal geared up for the next chapter in his life, that of entering the arena of Indian politics. In November 2012, his party Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came into existence after he announced his intention of forming one on October 2nd 2012.
Is Ambition overtaking his crusade?
Arvind Kejriwal has often negated hints of personal aspirations. He stated recently, “I don’t aspire to become the PM. I just want to give the people of this country an option, a choice”.
A recent elections.in poll has however revealed that Kejriwal is a strong contender in the Delhi Assembly elections for the post of chief minister. He has at the time of writing polled about 75% of the votes while Ajay Maken of the Congress seems to be the nearest competitor with less than the 20% votes polled for all other contenders.
In any case, gaining mileage over the past few months, Kejriwal has strongly and surely become one of the top five politicians most sought after in India, on Facebook and Twitter. He has also made the most of it on social media by having regular chats on mediums such as Google Hangout and reaching out to Indians abroad as well. He has also received several awards such as NDTV Indian of the Year in 2011, and others such as CNN-IBN Indian of the Year in Public service in the year 2006, etc.
The recent ABP Nielson survey indicated that about 26% of the votes in the assembly elections would go to AAP, while his own party estimates that they would sweep the elections with more than 32% votes. While BJP seems to be losing out with major infighting amongst its top contenders, Congress- led Shiela Dikshit who would be fighting for the 4th time now seems to be affected by the anti-incumbency factor. Shiela Dikshit herself has admitted that Delhiites this time may be looking out for other options. AAP however is not having a smooth journey, faced with teething problems such as internal tensions, removing candidates proven to have criminal backgrounds etc.
Well, will Arvind Kejriwal be the next chief minister of Delhi? The forthcoming elections will tell. Watch out for more updates here.