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

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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

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 38.

    This man graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, the equivalent of Harvard, Stanford and Princeton combined. An undergraduate admission to the IIT is extremely difficult. After that he gave up his IFS job(again a one-in a million chance of getting in to IFS). The politicians that oppose him cannot come close to his IQ or honesty. More power to Arwind Kejriwal. You can retake Delhi!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 37.

    All political parties, be it the Congress, BJP, or any other, who have criminals and corrupt people in their ranks, watch out. AAP is a force to reckon with and the people of India are waking up. If these parties don't change their ways, they are going to be wiped out.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 36.

    Great unbiased report, sharp contrast to the grossly one sided Indian media houses. Its puzzling to see the systematic but effective assassination of good intent being carried out, by the nexus of the powerful and established with vested interests.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    At least BBC,s reporting is unbiased...The Indian Media... Lock stock and barrel were anti Kejriwal, ...The BJP and Congress proved themselves to be of the same feathers....Now the whole world knows how corrupt the Indian system of governance is..Yet we call ourselves the biggest Democracy....Education alone can change India

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 34.

    This man is the best possible politician that India have had since Lal Bahadur Shastri. He has managed to keep most of his promises in the very short time that he was in power. He succeeded in exposing the link between the Ambanis - India's most corrupt people - and the corrupt Congress and the BJP. Indian media villified him in support of Ambani. I will vote for Arvind: there is NO other choice.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 33.

    I would still like to go with AK as I dread having to go back to the corrupt,communal old parties.I feel that AK and his party are sincere and trying to bring alternate ways of governance,some of which might fail.But I feel they are willing to learn from their mistakes and correct themselves as their intentions are honest unlike the other parties.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    Any other, mainly developed countries like US, UK etc, where many Indians migrate, should not to encourage or entertain India's corrupt 'elites' for short-term gain, sacrificing long term future for them & the world.

    India will face a serious civil unrest (if not war) if efforts to enforce true democracy by people like Kejriwal fails. India's 'elites' & Cos need to understand this simple truth.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 31.

    Just ask any of current political 'elites' who are not 'anarchic' but so disciplined to break microphone, tear official docs, use pepper spray in parliament- will they support any form of civil disobedience?
    Or, why internal extremism (naxal included) is rising so fast?
    How big companies infiltrated & why almost ALL our national institutions (executive, legislature & judiciary) are ruined?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Anyone trying to enforce uniform laws & accountability is bound to face huge opposition by current & aspiring 'elites'.

    General frustration & extremism rises when such civic efforts (by rare few like Kejriwal/AAP) are systemically blocked- as done by both BJP & Congress. Such effort to reform is quickly termed as anarchy.

    Check- Our legacy, our liability, our future- http://goo.gl/ehGPBY

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 29.

    There is not a single country in the world that was under foreign rule for thousands of years, totally alien culture & laws was imposed on locals and yet managed to become a developed country.
    India has different sets of rules for different people since Muslim rule around 1192.
    Most of India's problem starts with its socio-political elites who ruined the country, also represent India abroad.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 28.

    Arvind does not want to follow any laws, rules and regulations. He is like a brat. He is giving wrong directions to the people of India.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 27.

    BBC - great independent reporting!! Remember, mainstream Indian media feeds off the hands of a small number of extremely corrupt businessmen. The views of the Indian media will not support the AAP. I had to switch off a channel just now, it was so unashamedly anti-Kejriwal. Kejriwal's spotlight on the nexus between buisnessmen and mainstream parties is key, but can he sustain it?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 26.

    Corruption and nepotism are the main obstacles to India's progress. Corruption is practised at the highest levels. I do not know if Kejriwal can change the country, even if he becomes Prime Minister. The great thing about India, though, is that you can question and shake-up the system. One day Kejriwal, or someone like him, might succeed, and some of the corrupt few might truly get punished.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    "his bigger agenda of tackling corruption rather than governing Delhi - and laying down symbolic markers". Aren't the two objectives synonymous? Good governance & anti corruption are bed partners, and this individuals attempts to get those measures into law would have been a significant step forward to achieving better living standards for all!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 24.

    India has seen political parties clutching on to power by hook or crook has been given a new dynamic by new entrant AAP. AAP threw away the power not only by becoming more popular but have forced big wigs BJP and Congress to put on thinking cap to judge the impact that they will suffer in national elections just few months away. A true master stroke by AAP.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 23.

    The other parties are not taking AAP lightly.They are trying to adjust to the impact of AAP phenomenon. Its performance in the general elections in May would make the picture clear.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    I agree,Andrew. Kejriwal is a shrewd emerging politician. He has sensed the mood of the young, upcoming Indian youth who are looking for an alternative to Congress and BJP ( considered a carbon copy of Congress with minor differences). Mahatma Gandhi also looked an anarchist at times.
    Whether AAP establishes itself as an alternative over the time or not it has changed political discourse here.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    The AAP had no intention of governing. How can anyone vote for someone who calls themselves an anarchist.

    All India needs is someone who develops the country - builds roads, airports, schools etc etc. Populism has held India back and Kejriwal is the biggest populist of them all (50% of electricity bills and even more if you are a AAP supporter)

    Please India just vote for competence

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Andrew:
    Kejriwal did not say 'I am an Anarchist'.You are quoting him wrongly.

    I think you are moving too closely with the Indian Media which is highly Virulent and highly Inventive.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    While we feel the cause cited to resign is correct; we don't exactly know why and with what idea or aim in mind he is offering himself for bigger rule to fight a Task which almost impossible to achieve on date but with one's 'will Power' everyone can beat the entire no matter how strong the opponents are. Being a amateur on the Subject; we unable to foresee the result out of the action taken.

 

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