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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.


Comments 5 of 38



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