Arvind Kejriwal, who pledged to root out corruption after steering AAP to power in Delhi, was a man in a hurry and set a scorching pace to try to fulfil his anti-graft legislative agenda but his tumultous journey as Chief Minister ended in seven weeks.
As the controversy over the Jan Lokpal Bill deepened with Lt Governor Najeeb Jung advising the Delhi Assembly Speaker against allowing its tabling and Congress and BJP opposing it, Kejriwal stuck to his word by carrying out the threat to quit if the proposed legislation did not get through even at the introduction stage.
Emerging as a mascot of an alternative brand of politics, the 45-year-old engineer-turned-civil servant changed the political discourse with a stunning showing of his fledgling Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in the December Assembly pollsthat brought Congress’ 15-year rule to an end.
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But he courted controversy within weeks by sitting on a dharna in the heart of Delhi near Parliament House during the tense face off with the Centre last month over his demand for suspending three police officers for allegedly not acting against criminals. He had also come under attack on the governance agenda.
Leading from the front, Kejriwal had earlier anchored his campaign in an unconventional way to see it emerge as the second largest party in Delhi with 28 seats. AAP formed the government on December 28 with outside support from Congress.
With interests of the common man at the core of AAP’s agenda, Kejriwal’s triumph over three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit earned him the tag of ‘giant killer’. Often called the anti-corruption man, the diminutive and bespectacled IITian and a former tax official catapulted himself leading a people’s movement to check graft and get wide support.
Formed in November 2012, AAP cemented its place in politics, tapping students, farmers, civil rights groups, NGOs, social activists, women’s groups and the urban youth to emerge as a force. Born on August 16, 1968 in Hisar in Haryana to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi, Kejriwal sent the entire political spectrum into a tizzy, attacking both BJP and Congress on the issues of corruption, exorbitant rise in power and water tariff, safety of women and had managed to make a dent in the vote banks of both the parties.
He came into prominence during the agitation by 75-year-old activist Anna Hazare in support of Jan Lokpal Bill in 2011. Kejriwal won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006 for his contribution to the enactment of the Right to Information Act. In 2006, after resigning from the IRS, he donated his Magsaysay award money as a corpus fund for an NGO, Public Cause Research Foundation.
Shortly after coming to power, the AAP government announced 20 kilolitres of free water to every household per month. In yet another populist measure, it decided that consumers who did not pay their electricity bills as part of AAP’s power agitation will have to shell out only half of their total dues, a move that cost the exchequer Rs six crore.
Keeping a pre-poll promise, Kejriwal had announced a 50 per cent subsidy on electricity consumption of up to 400 units. The AAP government also ordered the Comptroller and Auditor General to audit the finances of the three private power distribution companies serving Delhi.