Kejriwal an ex-IRS office, and an RTI Activist won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006 for his contribution to the enactment of the Right to Information Act and for his efforts to empower the poorest citizens of India. In 2006, after resigning from the IRS, he donated his Magsaysay award money as a corpus fund to found an NGO, Public Cause Research Foundation.
His fight started with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare back in 2010, and while they parted ways in 2012, Arvind Kejriwal went on to form theÂ self-proclaimedÂ common man’s political party, or theÂ Aam Aadmi Party. Below are the defining moments in Kejriwal’s fight to the post of the Chief Minister.
Arvind Kejriwal began his journey alongside Anna Hazare, in their campaign India Against Corruption, with more names like Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh, Art of Living Head Sri Sri Ravishankar, Yoga Teacher Ramdev amongst others. While their first press conference happened on 29th October, 2010, the movement came to prominence on 4th April, 2011 when Anna Hazare set out on the “fast unto death”, demanding inclusion of the civil society in the formation of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
The Government of India accepted the compromise formula that there be a politician chairman and an activist non-politician Co-Chairman. It was reported that Pranab Mukherjee will be the Chairman of the draft committee while Shanti Bhushan will be the co-chairman. Bhushan was one of the original drafters of the Lokpal Bill along with Hazare, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan, and the then RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.
On 9th June, 2011, Hazare described his fight against corruption as the “Second Freedom Struggle” and set an ultimatum of 15 August 2011, as the last date to pass a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, threatening to otherwise intensify his anti-corruption agitation and start another fast from 16 August. As Hazare was to begin his second hunger strike,Â he was detained by Delhi Police in the early morning before he could start his strike at JP park, Delhi. Delhi Police had asked Anna not to leave his home, which he declined, and Anna was detained at his residence in Mayur Vihar. Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Manish Sisodia and more than 1200 supporters were also taken into preventive custody by the Police.
As the movement gained widespread support of literally millions of people, both online and on-ground, Arvind Kejriwal emerged as a prominent leader in the campaign to end corruption. For many, the 45 year old activist emerged as a youth icon. Kejriwal also emerged as the public face and the spokesperson of the campaign.
As 2011 came to an end,Â Anna Hazare began his fast demanding a stronger version of the ombudsman Lokpal bill at MMRDA ground, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai, on 27th Deceber, after paying respect at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Juhu. Thousands of his supporters had joined his rally from Juhu Beach to the MMRDA ground. The rally also saw India Against Corruption members Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, Hazare boarding an open truck to reach the fast venue. Kejriwal joined the fast with Hazare, which ended the second day owing to Hazare’s bad health and low response by people.
Soon came 2012, and also the time when the India Against Corruption campaign would break up, with the members parting ways and the movement fizzling out to an end.Â Towards the end of 2012, Hazare and Bedi reformed Team Anna, while Kejriwal and some others split from the erstwhile apolitical movement with the intention of forming what was to become the Aam Aadmi Party.
When Kejriwal announced the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he was met with criticism not only from other political parties, but also from Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and even the public supporters. Many claimed that this was Kejriwal’s way to stay in the media and in prominence without a motive, cause or a mentor like Anna Hazare.
AAP was formally launched on 26th November, 2012 with Kejriwal’s belief that direct involvement in politics was necessary to “cleanse the system from inside”. From an RTI activist, Kejriwal was now a politician, and a self proclaimed political activist, beginning his campaigning in Delhi.
On 23 March 2013, Kejriwal began an indefinite fast in an attempt to mobilize people against inflated power and electricity bills at a house in Sundar Nagri, a low-income group resettlement colony in North-East Delhi. During protest he urged Delhi citizens not to pay “inflated” water and electricity bills. The AAP also demanded an audit of power and electricity supply in Delhi by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India which was supported by Civil Society Groups like National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM). The AAP claimed that the protest gathered support from 1,00,000 people in Delhi on a single day and from more than 3,00,000 people up to 28 March 2013. Anna Hazare urged Kejriwal to end the fast and he did so on 6 April.
On 10 June 2013, Kejriwal supported the agitation of Delhi auto rickshaw drivers, who were protesting the Delhi government’s ban on advertisements on auto rickshaws. Kejriwal claimed that, auto rickshaw drivers supported his party and they carried AAP’s advertisements on their auto rickshaws and this is the reason for Delhi Government’s ban and he challenged that volunteers of AAP will put 10,000 advertisements on auto rickshaws as a protest.
On 15th November, 2013, Aam Aadmi PartyÂ completed its list of candidates for Delhi Assembly by declaring it’s final candidate in the 70th constituency of the state.
Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party soon began its door to door campaigning with very little media coverage, yet covering the whole of Delhi. They soon announced a constituency by constituency manifesto, a first for Delhi. Kejriwal’s volunteers also went door to door doing surveys to understand the problems of the locals better. Kejriwal was surely up to something, but continued criticism by all political parties and veteran political analysts put them at the back foot.
With the broom, or the Jhaadu as his party symbol, Kejriwal promised to ‘cleanse’ Delhi’s political and bureaucratic system.
Kejriwal was contesting for the post of the Chief Minister, battling against the three time Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, and BJP’s Dr. Harshvardhan.
As the results for the Delhi Assembly Elections came out, Bhartiya Janta Party emerged as the party with the most seats at 31, and Congress at 8 seats, but what took Delhi by storm was Aam Aadmi Party winning 28 seats, setting a stellar example of what the party was capable of. The media, exit polls and political gurus were all proven wrong – AAP rejoiced.
The BJP fell short of just a few seats to form the Government in Delhi and the ball was now in Kejriwal’s court.Â Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung then invited the Aam Aadmi Party to form the government. Kejriwal wrote to BJP national leader Rajnath Singh and INC national leader Sonia Gandhi for clarification on 18 issues before seeking their support in forming a coalition. The BJP did not reply and the INC agreed to 16 of the 18 issues and offered its unconditional support. The AAP then sought public opinion through a variety of mediums (Such as via community meetings, text messages and widely distributed party pamphlets) whether they should take the support of the INC. The AAP then signaled its intention to form a minority government. In the letter to the Lieutenant Governor, AAP does not mention that it has suppot of INC. The Lieutenant Governor sent his recommendations to the President of India.
After getting a clearance from the President, Arvind Kejriwal sworn in as 7th Chief Minister of Delhi on 28th December 2013, leading the youngest Cabinet in Delhi ever. As many believe, this has turned out to be a defining moment in the history of Indian politics, where a one-year-old political party, claiming to be a political alternative won through its stellar performance and public support, that too in the political center of the country – a state where only BJP and Congress have ruled.
And Delhi now has a new Chief Minister. The 45 year old, RTI Activist and ex-India Against Corruption member, Arvind Kejriwal!Â Making governance more transparent and inclusive and checking corruption was what he pitched in a highly effective marketing campaign ahead of the Delhi election. Today, he urged the city, “Let us swear that we will never seek nor offer a bribe.” The sea of supporters roared its assent.