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Arvind Kejriwal: 'Aam aadmi' who reclaimed Delhi for third time

February 16, 2020 20:16 IST

Kejriwal runs his party with the proverbial iron fist and has learnt to temper his aggression, say people close to him. 

IMAGE: AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal raises slogans during his speech after he was sworn-in as the chief minister of Delhi for the third time at a ceremony at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo

Arvind Kejriwal, an unassuming, bespectacled bureaucrat who slipped into the political frame during the Anna Hazare-led Lokpal movement in 2011, has been sworn in as Delhi's chief minister for a third term.

Born in 2012 after Kejriwal fell out with Hazare, his Aam Aadmi Party stormed back to power in Delhi by winning 62 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly.

The party's choice of name was in line with the alternative brand of politics it espoused.

Dressed in oversized shirts and trousers, open toe sandals and with a muffler wrapped around his head and neck, Kerjiwal, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, soon carved out an image as a leader of the common man.

His trademark muffler has even earned him the moniker 'mufflerman'.

However, Kejriwal's efforts to spread the AAP's footprint beyond the national capital have not been successful.


His attempt to be seen as a direct challenger to Narendra Modi came a cropper in 2014 when he contested the Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi.

He also tried to make an electoral dent in Punjab and Goa in 2017 but in vain.

Kejriwal first became Delhi's chief minister in 2013.

Images of him sleeping in his utilitarian Wagon R while staging a sit-in for a Jan Lokpal (ombudsman) wrapped in a cotton quilt in cold winter nights dominated the front pages of newspapers and prime-time news bulletins.

He resigned 49 days after coming to power since the Jan Lokpal Bill could not be tabled in the Delhi assembly, earning him the 'bhagoda' (deserter) tag.

He silenced his critics when he returned to power in 2015 with the AAP winning 67 of Delhi's 70 seats.

Kejriwal runs his party with the proverbial iron fist and has learnt to temper his aggression, say people close to him.

He has mellowed since his days as the angry leader on a sit-in, carefully calibrating his political message and refusing to be baited by the Bharatiya Janata Party which made the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Shaheen Bagh the centrepiece of its campaign for the Delhi polls.

During the election campaign, Kejriwal attacked the BJP on several occasions.

He was careful, however, to not speak out too clearly on the Shaheen Bagh protests.

Notwithstanding the electoral triumph for the BJP in the May Lok Sabha polls, the IIT Kharagpur graduate managed to anchor a campaign that wooed all sections in the city.

At the start of the campaign, he had announced that his party will run a positive campaign on the basis of the development work done by his government in the last five years.

Schemes such as free travel for women in DTC buses, free electricity, installation of CCTV cameras and free water were his party's poll planks.

Dubbed a "terrorist" by BJP leaders, Kejriwal said he would leave it to the voters to decide whether they consider him a son of Delhi or a terrorist.

Addressing thousands at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan after taking oath for the third term as chief minister, the 51-year-old said he wants to forget the bitterness of the poll campaign and take everyone forward with him.

He also stressed that he wants to work in coordination with the Centre and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's blessings for smooth governance of the national capital.

Born on August 16, 1968 in Hisar in Haryana to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi, Kejriwal is a man of simple tastes.

He lives with his parents, wife and two children, and is often seen going out for a quiet meal or an occasional film.

Both his children -- Harshita and Pulkit -- are also IIT products.

A strict vegetarian who prefers home-made food, Kejriwal married a fellow IRS officer, Sunita.

He is known to be an ardent practitioner of Vipassana, and seldom misses his yoga and meditation sessions.

After completing his graduation in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur, he joined Tata Steel in 1989.

He resigned in 1992 to take up the Union Public Service Commission examination which he cleared to become an IRS officer.

He also worked with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.

Kejriwal worked with people in slums through an NGO, 'Parivartan', he set up with his confidant Manish Sisodia.

His efforts towards the enactment of the RTI Act to empower the poorest citizens of India won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006.

In February 2006, he became a full-time activist and started another NGO, Public Cause Research Foundation, with his award money as a corpus fund.

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