Arvind Kejriwal is an Indian politician and the founder and national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He assumed office of the Chief Minister of Delhi on 14 February 2015, after leading his party to a grand victory in the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections. His party won 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi. AAP had earlier come to power in Delhi in 2013 as well, with Kejriwal taking oath as the Chief Minister of Delhi for the first time on December 28, 2013. However, due to dissatisfaction over the government’s inability to pass his proposed anti-corruption legislation, he decided to resign and dissolve the government on February 14, 2014, which was in just 49 days of assuming office. Kejriwal later admitted that it was not a wise decision, and also a great learning, which propelled him to achieve a thumping victory for his party in the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections.
The core focus area of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party is to remove corruption from the society, especially the type that affects the common man on an everyday basis. Reforms in areas such as water supply, electricity, public distribution system, health services, public works, social welfare schemes, and income tax have been the mainstay of AAP’s anti-corruption movement. Implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill has also been one of the key goals of Arvind Kejriwal and his party. The Bill seeks to pass on the power to the common people, which would make politicians and judiciary answerable to the public. The AAP government has passed the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, which is now awaiting the president’s nod.
Early Life and education
Arvind Kejriwal was born in Siwani, Bhiwani district, Haryana, on 16 August 1968. He belongs to an educated, upper middle-class family, and is the first of the three children of Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi. Kejriwal completed his mechanical engineering from the prestigious IIT, Kharagpur.
Arvind Kejriwal worked at Tata Steel for some time, after which he resigned from his post to pursue administrative services. He cleared the Civil Services Examination and joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) as an Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax in 1995. The same year, he married Sunita, a 1993-batch IRS officer. However, Kejriwal was always itching to do something more for the society, which prompted him to leave his lucrative administrative career and start the fight against corruption.
Life as an activist
Even when Arvind Kejriwal was working with the Income Tax Department, he, along with Manish Sisodia and others, launched an anti-corruption movement, called Parivartan. The movement addressed the everyday issues faced by the common man. The primary focus was to get the work done without having to pay a bribe. Later, Kejriwal was associated with the NGO Kabir that focused on Right to Information (RTI) and participatory governance.
Kejriwal came into prominence after he spearheaded the Jan Lokpal movement, which advocated appointment of public ombudsman – Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in States. Other prominent activists such as Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi came to support this movement, which was later named Indian anti-corruption movement.
Arvind Kejriwal, along with other activists, launched the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in November 2012. His party came to power in the 2013 Delhi Legislative Assembly elections, after securing 28 seats. Kejriwal defeated incumbent Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit of the Indian National Congress (INC), in her constituency of New Delhi by a margin of 25,864 votes. Kejriwal was appointed chief Minster, but he resigned after just 49 days, as he was not able to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly.
Arvind Kejriwal’s monumental success came in the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly elections, where his party won 67 of the 70 seats. He became the Chief Minister of Delhi for the second time on February 14, 2015. Since then, he has launched a number of reforms and programs that have benefited the common man. He continues to work for the betterment of the people.
Awards and Recognition
- 2004: Ashoka Fellow, Civic Engagement
- 2006: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership
- 2006: CNN-IBN Indian of the Year in Public Service
- 2010: Policy Change Agent of the Year, Economic Times Awards
- 2011: NDTV Indian of the Year
- 2013: CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2013-Politics
- 2013: Foreign Policy magazine top 100 global thinker
- 2014: Featured in Time’s 100 list of the most influential people in the world
- 2016: Ranked 42nd on the list of world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune magazine
Arvind Kejriwal is a strict vegetarian. For many years now, he has been practicing Vipassana, an ancient meditation technique that helps relax the mind, body and soul. He has also authored a book titled ‘Swaraj’.