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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal greets the crowd as he arrives to meet Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, in New Delhi yesterday. Image Credit:

New Delhi: About a decade ago, when a mild-mannered former tax official launched accusations of corruption involving some of India’s most powerful people from a shabby house in Delhi, not many took him seriously.

On Tuesday, the anti-corruption hero and Delhi Chief Minister-elect Arvind Kejriwal won a third consecutive term as a legislator from the high-profile New Delhi legislative assembly seat, by a margin of 21,697 votes, defeating Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Sunil Yadav and Congress candidate Romesh Sabharwal. The diminutive former bureaucrat had become a media sensation.

Kejriwal’s massive electoral victory in 2020 Delhi polls was guaranteed by his calculated metamorphosis into an astute politician. Ahead of the Delhi election, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor underwent a complete image makeover — from an anti-corruption crusader into an impressive Aadministrator.

In the election, Kejriwal, riding high on an outpouring of support from millions of lower and middle-class Indians, proved that he was no ordinary man, and was here to stay.

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Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man Party, leader Arvind Kejriwal addresses an election campaign rally in New Delhi on February 3, 2015.

As IRS Officer

Kejriwal joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in the early nineties, in the capacity of additional commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi. He worked here for five years, took a long study leave, then returned to his job briefly, only to quit in 2006 to devote his time fully to fighting corruption in India.

Much later in 2013, after joining politics, Kejriwal claimed that he had chosen public service over earning millions as an Income Tax commissioner. This led to a controversy, with the IRS Association pointing out that he had never been promoted to the rank of commissioner of Income Tax.

A social activist

The former Indian bureaucrat is said to have masterminded the Right To Information (RTI) Act. As he wanted to overhaul the system, Kejriwal fought a decade-long campaign to bring more transparency to government, but it was only in 2010 that he began to pursue an anti-corruption campaign more vigorously.

In 2000, he had started ‘Parivartan’ (change), a citizens’ movement which helped ordinary people to get basic benefits such as procuring a driving licence, a ration card or a telephone or electricity connection without paying a bribe.

‘Parivartan’ later led to Kejriwal’s aggressive campaign for the passage of RTI Act. The Act was passed in 2005.

In 2006, Kejriwal was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his active role in empowering the citizens with RTI Act and leading the way to combat corruption in India.

The same year, he donated his Magsaysay Award and used the award money to found Public Cause Research Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), which worked towards greater accountability in governance.

However, soon realising that the RTI failed to make a difference in the corrupt systems of governance in the country, Kejriwal began drafting the Jan Lokpal Bill with the help of eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Again later, when he felt that the Bill was not being taken seriously, the mild-mannered former tax official joined hands with veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare and social activist and former cop Kiran Bedi in 2010.

Kejriwal went on to become one of the architects of India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and the most recognised face of the anti-corruption campaign. However, disappointed by no outcome from IAC movement, he decided to go further in his bid to rid the country of corruption.

Kejriwal is often accused of using civil rights activist Hazare to fulfil his political ambitions. Many still believe that Kejriwal dumped Hazare when he came in the way of his political ambition.

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Arvind Kejriwal meeting supporters during his roadshow in Moradabad in 2014. Image Credit: PTI

An astute politician

Fresh off the anti-corruption movement, on October 2, 2012, on the 143rd birth anniversary of Father of Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi, Kejriwal launched his political party — Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the political party of ordinary people.

“We derive our lessons from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. The idea is to fix the system. I dont think about success or failure, but the fight. I an answerable to the next generation,” Kejriwal had told the new recruits of AAP.

His decision to enter politics raised eyebrows. Some political analysts dubbed him as a naive idealist who would fizzle out in no time.

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid described Kejriwal as “an ant trying to take on an elephant” after he alleged that an NGO led by Khurshid and his wife misused funds. Later then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demonstrated support to Khurshid by making him External Affairs minister.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also called Kejriwal a “hitman” after he raised questions about a controversial land deal involving then party president Nitin Gadkari.

In his very first election in 2013, Kejriwal defeated the then Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit by a margin of more than 25,000 votes. His party AAP won an impressive 28 seats in the election. Many believe the feat became possible because Kejriwal had by then become a populist leader. He had defeated, and unseated, Congress’ Dikshit by forming a minority government.

After resigning as CM in 2014 due to his party AAP’s inability to pass Jan Lokpal Bill in the legislative assembly, his party made a striking comeback in the 2015 assembly elections.

In 2015, AAP won with a thumping majoring getting a whopping 67 out of the 70 seats. Kejriwal won his New Delhi seat by more than 31,000 votes, defeating BJP’s Nupur Sharma.

The latest 2020 Delhi elections have brought Kejriwal and his party back in power with the same vigour, sparing only eight seats for BJP.

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Kejriwal addresses a nukkad Sabha in Varanasi in 2014. Image Credit: PTI

Early Life

Kejriwal was born into an upper middle-class family on August 16, 1968, in Hisar, Haryana. He was educated at Campus School in Hisar, and later at a Christian missionary Holy Child School at Haryana’s Sonipat.

Kejriwal drew early inspiration from his father who was an electrical engineer who graduated from the prestigious Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra.

Kejriwal is a mechanical engineer who qualified from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, considered to be one of the best engineering colleges of India.

He worked for Tata Steel briefly before becoming a bureaucrat and social activist.

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Civil Society members Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi speak to media and supporters after a meeting with representatives of the government, at Ramlila Maidan in 2011. Image Credit: PTI

Personal Life

In 1995, Kejriwal married 1993-batch IRS officer Sunita. The couple has a daughter named Harshita and a son named Pulkit. A vegetarian and a chronic diabetic, Kejriwal has been practising the Vipassana meditation technique for several years.

In 2018, he went to Bengaluru for a 10-day naturopathy course for treatment of diabetes. His blood sugar level had shot up during a nine-day sit-in protest at the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

In 2016, Sunita took voluntary retirement as commissioner of Income Tax in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with cabinet ministers at Delhi Secretariat in New Delhi in 2013. Image Credit: PTI

Highlights

Arvind Kejriwal joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in early nineties, in the capacity of Additional Commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi.

In 2006, he quit IRS to devote his time fully to fighting corruption in India.

The same year, Kejriwal was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his active role in empowering the citizens with RTI Act and leading the way to combat corruption in India.

In 2010, Kejriwal went on to become one of the architects of India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and the most recognised face of the anti-corruption campaign.

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Police detain Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters at Janpath in New Delhi in 2012. Kejriwal along with physically challenged persons were marching towards PM's residence to demand the resignation of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid. Image Credit: PTI

On October 2, 2012, on the 143rd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Kejriwal launched his political party — Aam AAadmi Party (AAP) or the political party of ordinary people.

In his very first election in 2013, Kejriwal defeated the then Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit by a margin of more than 25,000 votes, and formed a minority government.

After resigning as CM in 2014 due to his party AAP’s inability to pass Jan Lokpal Bill in the legislative assembly, his party made a striking comeback in the 2015 assembly elections.

In 2015, AAP won with a thumping majoring getting a whopping 67 out of the 70 seats. Kejriwal won his New Delhi seat by more than 31,000 votes, defeating BJP’s Nupur Sharma.

Arvind Kejriwal won a third consecutive term as a legislator from the high-profile New Delhi legislative assembly seat, by a margin of 21,697 votes in 2020.

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Anna Hazare along with Arvind Kejriwal addressing the media at Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar in 2011. Image Credit: PTI