First there was Arvind Kejriwal the challenger, setting fire to the government’s Lokpal Bill. Then there was Kejriwal the aam aadmi, eating street food, doing the dishes, sporting the now-iconic muffler. Then there was Kejriwal the dharna star, being dragged away by the police from former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s house and other tourist destinations. Now, there is Kejriwal, the family man. One of the first things the AAP chief did after his famous victory that stalls the Modi wave, wiping out the Congress from Delhi and changing the face of Indian politics, was hug his wife. After introducing Sunita Kejriwal to thousands of exultant supporters, he went on Twitter to thank her for “always being there”. Does Delhi have its first first couple in the Kejriwals?
When US President Barack Obama won his second term, the first image that went up was of him hugging wife Michelle, with the caption “four more years”. The closest an Indian politician has come to displaying affection, in recent memory, is to make his wife chief minister when he had to go to prison —- we’re looking at you, Lalu Prasad. While the stately Gursharan Kaur came out for public occasions to accompany husband Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi prefers to maintain a glacial distance from rumours about his private life. There are sentimental histories about Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, but she largely stayed out of public life until after his death.
The Indian politician, typically male, has always preferred to be seen as the stoic, go-it-alone sort, speaking of a life spent in heroic service to the country. With Kejriwal’s hug, politics is suddenly part of the ordinary struggles of the ordinary politician who cannot do without the support of the partner.