Delhi just a stepping stone for Arvind Kejriwal?

Arvind Kejriwal waves to supporters in Delhi (14 Feb) The big moments of Mr Kejriwal's time as chief minister happened in the public sphere, not in his office

Related Stories

The only surprise about Arvind Kejriwal's resignation as Delhi's chief minister would have been if he hadn't gone.

His actions since taking over the job only six weeks ago have all pointed this way - including the final showdown over his anti-corruption bill.

Delhi looks more than ever like a stepping-stone for his bigger, national ambitions.

His Aam Admi (Common Man) party is already contesting more than two-thirds of the seats in the spring elections.

Now Mr Kejriwal can lead his campaign nationwide.

He never really stopped being a protester - and never really looked comfortable as a politician - at least, not yet.

Calling time

His short time in office since his spectacular electoral breakthrough last year was mostly devoted to his bigger agenda of tackling corruption rather than governing Delhi - and laying down symbolic markers.

Whatever happens to him, people will remember Mr Kejriwal as the man who called time on politicians' perks, like vainglorious motorcades and villas.

Look at his 49 days in office and almost all the big moments happened outside it.

There was a public meeting to hear people's grievances. It was abandoned after too many people turned up. Chaos, said his critics.

But Kejriwal, wrapped in his trademark scarf and drab sweater, had won the symbolic point. He looked like the man of the people, reaching out to the common man.

And look at how everyone's copied him since: from Narendra Modi's BJP new tea-party offensive to the Congress' Rahul Gandhi's slightly more tepid appearance before an audience of railway porters last week.

Then there was Mr Kejriwal's sit-down protest in central Delhi. Ostensibly, it was about winning greater control over the city's police - something the central government was never going to give up

Mr Kejriwal brought the government district to a standstill. Traditionalists were outraged: how could a chief minister behave like this?

"I'm an anarchist," Mr Kejriwal replied. But just two days later, he called it all off - not even close to achieving his goal. Yet he'd won the symbolic point again - looking like the man standing up to the big, bad elite.

Question marks

Just days ago, probably already planning his exit, he had another go at the elite - this time at the cosy nexus between the government and India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, accusing them of ripping off consumers for their gas.

Now he can make all these waves on a national stage. Will it work?

India has seen revolutionary new politicians before, like Jayaprakash Narayan. For a while, his promise of a "peaceful total revolution" galvanised a nation sick of the excesses of Indira Gandhi's emergency rule and pushed her from power.

But then his movement fizzled and Congress returned to power again

This time round, all the signs still point to the BJP, the other big establishment party, winning the next elections.

And Mr Kejriwal still has many question marks against him, about who he really is and what he stands for.

But Indians are so sick of the politicians they know that they're still prepared to give the one they don't a chance.

So for Delhi's shortest-lasting chief minister, this looks like just the beginning.

Andrew North Article written by Andrew North Andrew North South Asia correspondent

Why are India's air force planes falling out of the sky?

All air forces have accidents, but accounts of Indian warplanes crashing on training flights have become almost routine news, writes Andrew North.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Kejriwal has already shaken up politics with promises to change a putrid system. He encourages citizens to use cellphones to record govt workers who demand bribes, then call hotline. He distains guards & luxury – symbols of privilege enjoyed by senior civil servants & politicians. He slashed power & water prices, banned foreign supermarkets from setting up in capital.
    Why not Arvind Kejriwal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Something needs to change. Why not turn to activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal?
    He quit because he was frustrated by obstacles thrown at his anti-corruption bill. His party - Aam Aadmi - means “common person”. His debut tapped public disgust with corruption.
    His anti-graft bill would have set up an ombudsman to investigate politicians & civil servants.
    Why not Arvind Kejriwal & AA?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Call ne a cynic but it is dubtful that in a country like India with its entrenched and systematic corruption it is hardly likely anything will change for a long time to come and certainly not through the efforts of one man particularly another politician. hardly!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    We should all know that Industrialists are the Jockey and the politicians are the Racing horse. .Either of them cannot exists without each other support. And that's where Mr.Kejriwal made his attempt to create a barrier trying to introduce the anti corruption bill which unfortunately was blocked by the political party to defend their own existence. Best of Luck Mr Kejriwal for the coming LS poll.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Delhi can do better than this joker. He can't admit he's wrong (not apologizing for the sting on the Ugandan women), can't follow rules (not following the rules for the Janlokpal vote) and awards law breakers (giving a 50% discount to those who didn't pay their power bills). If he was serious about lokpal he should have stayed and fought. But he's resigned -- just another power hungry politician.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The AAP's short term in government showed that the party unfortunately could not live up to its' promises, and thus from the onset they spoke about leaving office.
    The only real alternative to Congress is the BJP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I am glad that he came out in the limelight as one of the legion of common men in India. He might have impressed many of his compatriots when he resigned as the chief minister of Delhi. He has been fighting corruption in India but his move has reverberated throughout the whole world, where corruption is prevalent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I think you're missing the point, and simply parroting the rest of the media. Delhi HAS been governed, more effectively in 49 days than in the previous 490! See the comments you've already received about the rickshaws, the hospitals, etc. What about the water and the bijli? He has shown that dealing with corruption is non-negotiable; and that he is trying to improve the life of the aam admi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    A positive change from the present politics of crime and corruption will be welcomed by the majority of Indians. However, the beneficiaries of the current system of governance will not allow any change easily.Best of luck to Kejrival and India' dispossessed, disempowered and suffering masses. God Bless India

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I have been traveling around Delhi for the past several days, almost always on auto-rickshas. People driving auto-riksha's, known for rude and unruly behavior are the most ardent supports of Kejariwal. Apparently, they are a changed lot now. I asked some of them the reason. Almost the same answer from every one. When the police stopped harassing them, they shared it with their customers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @ Big B. It's not only Delhi but other cities, states getting positively affected by AAP.

    I just came back from Mumbai & Kolkata. I witnessed the hope among people, mainly among young ones, who were totally frustrated & angry. Now they sense a hope & courage that they too can stand up for a cause.

    AAP is the only practical hope. India has a more violent & chaotic future awaiting it, if it fails

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    "Success" in a country like India largely depends on how one can use the prevailing & socially accepted culture of corruption & crime- be it becoming a VC of a Univ or director of a national institute, or governor/LG of a state/UT, more so in private companies.

    How can India's socio-political 'elites' accept that an Aam Aadmi start demanding accountability, talk eye to eye with these 'elites'!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Previous Congress Govt in Delhi did not seek consent of Central Govt at least 13 times-
    Neutral lawyers, (ex) solicitor generals supported AAP's stand.
    Suddenly that redundant procedure became so important and that too for a bill that "all support"!

    It seems Congress repented supporting AAP & wanted to get out of it asap. FIR became an obligation & 'procedure' the excuse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It seems that AAP touched the very raw nerve for both Congress & BJP by its FIR against Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, RIL chief Mukesh Ambani, former Union minister Murli Deora and retired Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal-

    It was almost impossible to allow AAP govt to function after that- it's too risky for those who are benefited by the status-quo.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    It's an excellent political master stroke by AAP and Kejriwal. Both are maturing fast to handle Indian politics, politicians and their financial donors who sustain its corrupt activities.
    Is it not a irony that both BJP and Congress "supported" the Jan Lokpal bill yet opposed Delhi's AAP govt to even table the bill only due to 'procedure'?
    Both used Delhi LG, Najib Jung & central govt as shield!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Andrew, I tried to analyse AAP government by contacting my friends in Delhi government, hospitals and schools. I think we are missing the real bit that this government did. Here is what I found:
    -Gov office stopped taking bribes openly and things started moving faster.
    -Hospitals machines started working
    -Gov Schools drastically improved
    -All the ministers were really non corrupt and very active

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The Indian Spring led by Kejriwal has the same roots and tools(Internet and Social Media) as the other uprisings like the Middle East Springs but the Means here is different:it is a Ballot Spring.

    Aam Aadmi can manage 25+ seats in the coming elections and it will control the future Prime Minister of India.


Page 2 of 2



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.