He is the one man who can stand in the way of the BJP wresting total control over the corridors of power in Delhi. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) grew from a national movement to a formidable political party, and then a government in little over a year. And now, as Delhi goes to polls again, former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will be a guest at the Express Adda in Mumbai on Friday.
The Express Adda is a series of interactions with people at the centre of change. It has earlier featured actor Shah Rukh Khan, world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand, Financial Times commentator Martin Woolf, and most recently Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, among others.
At a little over 46, Kejriwal is younger than most of his political contemporaries, but his story is perhaps unique. He was first an officer in the Indian Revenue Service, before giving up his job and turning into an anti-corruption crusader. A Magsaysay awardee, Kejriwal shot to national prominence when he was part of the India Against Corruption movement that shook the country for 13 days in August 2012, as Anna Hazare fasted at Ramlila Maidan for the Jan Lokpal Bill. He later split from Hazare and formed the AAP, which caught popular imagination. Riding on an anti-corruption wave, the AAP won 28 seats in the Delhi assembly in December 2013.
For 49 days, in a tenuous arrangement with the Congress that drew flak from several quarters, Kejriwal was Chief Minister of Delhi. Those days too were far from ordinary. He told citizens of Delhi to sting police officers and government officials, brought a controversial power and water subsidy, and even slept in the middle of the road on a winter night to protest against the central government. As eventful as the sojourn was, it was shortlived, a disagreement with the Congress on the passage of the Lokpal Bill becoming the breaking point.
A year later, Kejriwal faces another election, but the challenges have mounted. He faces a buoyant BJP, fresh from its success in Haryana and Maharashtra, and with the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. In Delhi itself, the AAP has faced the ire of its supporters for having quit the government. And there are questions for Kejriwal from within as well, with some alleging a lack of democracy in the party.