Arvind Kejriwal Biography

Arvind Kejriwal is one of the most controversial and popular figures of contemporary Indian politics, having risen as recently as late 2012. Within so short a span, he has generated tremendous discussion after becoming the Chief Minister of Delhi and resigning within fifty days in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Also, in the general elections of 2014, he contested from the most-hyped LS seat of Varanasi against Narendra Modi. However, the verdict of the people was not in his favour.

For someone who believes that "change begins with small things", Kejriwal has embarked upon a rather tough mission of making India corruption-free through the more popular means of seeking public support - standing for elections. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came out with flying colours in the 2013 assembly election in Delhi, bagging 27 seats. More drama was to follow, as the Congress extended support to the AAP and a government was formed under Kejriwal's leadership.

The Man

An average, bespectacled Indian with a soft demeanour, Arvind Kejriwal, born in Siwani, Haryana on August 16, 1968, began his career with Tata Steel after graduating in mechanical engineering from IIT, Kharagpur, in 1989. This was not to hold his interest too long, for he left the same in 1992 to have a shot at the Indian Civil Services exam. Kejriwal successfully entered the Indian Revenue Services and began service in the New Delhi Income Tax Department.

Kejriwal soon married Sunita, an IRS officer herself; they now have a daughter and a son. Kejriwal is a vegetarian and likes watching Aamir Khan's movies and other comedies. He has also authored a book, Swaraj that came out in 2012, in both English and Hindi.

Social Service

In 2000, Kejriwal quit his IRS job and gave vent to the feelings of social activism and started an NGO, Parivartan, at Kaushambi, to take up social root causes against corruption, change in the field of education, and the public distribution system in India. Kejriwal strongly feels that political corruption is one root cause of corruption in the country as can be seen from the various scams involving political figures that have been exposed by the media.

Kejriwal himself had met several social activists and personalities like Mother Teresa and was impressed by their vision and thoughts early on. Soon enough in the public eye, Arvind Kejriwal gathered many followers. He was awarded for his initiatives with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award for Emerging Leadership in 2006. He was also able to meet and garner ample support from Anna Hazare, who was rising as an anti-corruption Gandhian. The two joined hands along with others like Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan, etc., to spring up the momentum of the anti-corruption movement. Kejriwal became the architect of the Jan Lokpal Bill movement, aiming to bring an ombudsman over the government and a strong RTI (Right to Information) in the country.

New Chapter in Kejriwal's Life

As Hazare's movement began to lose steam over slow-progressing talks with other political parties, Arvind Kejriwal decided to rejuvenate it through the political route. This brought in major differences in opinions between Anna, who did not want to politicise the movement and Kejriwal, who thought otherwise. The two parted ways and in November 2012, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came into existence.

When Assembly elections concluded in Delhi in December 2013, nobody had imagined that the AAP would win 27 of the 70 seats. While the party was nowhere close to the required majority, the event was hailed as a mass transformation in which the common man had finally stood up to decades of corruption and exploitation.

But fate had decided to enthrone Kejriwal. The Congress party extended support, asking the AAP to form the government. They did so, and Kejriwal became the seventh Chief Minister of Delhi. However, the government was not to last long, as the BJP and the Congress opposed some aspects of the Jan Lokpal Bill, leading to confrontation in the assembly.

14 February 2014 was the last day of the AAP government, as the opposition wouldn't let it table the Jan Lokpal Bill without getting it approved from the Centre first, which Kejriwal saw as unnecessary and a hurdle.

What next for Kejriwal?

Kejriwal had said that he would quit if the Jan Lokpal Bill wasn't passed, and he has. Whether it is ideological idealism or a shrewd pre-Lok Sabha move, time will tell. But for now the party is focused on the 2014 general election, targeting Haryana and UP. Kejriwal has said they'd now expose the festering politics-business nexus, of which he says Narendra Modi is a guilty party.

However, Kejriwal doesn't see the role of PM for himself, preferring to aim at ruling Delhi with full majority. But with the many about-turns the city has witnessed the party make, who knows!

Arvind Kejriwal Facts and Information

Born16 August 1968 (Siwani, Haryana)
FatherGobind Ran Kejriwal (engineer)
MotherGita Devi
WifeSunita Kejriwal (IRS officer)
ResidenceGhaziabad, UP
EducationSchooling from Campus School in Hisar. B.Tech. (Mechanical Engineering), IIT Kharagpur
Indian Revenue Service (IRS)Joined the IRS in 1992 through the Civil Services Examination
Social ActivismResigned from job in February 2006 Founded the NGO called Public Cause Research Foundation from the prize money of Magsaysay Award.
ParivartanFounded Parivartan, an NGO, in 1999 to assist citizens in matters related to property, electricity, etc.
Right to InformationInstrumental in getting the Right to Information Act (RTI) enacted as a law.
Jan Lokpal MovementKey person in the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare. Participated in the hunger strike of 5 April 2011 against the government's Lokpal Bill. This was in reaction to the rejection by the former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh of his request for the formation of a joint committee comprising government and civil society representatives.
Jail JourneyArrested on 16 August 2011 in connection with the protests.
Political partyFounded the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012 to present a 'clean' democratic alternative.
Chief Minister of DelhiDefeated the Congress's Sheila Dikshit from the New Delhi constituency and became the 7th Chief Minister of Delhi on 28 December 2013.
ResignationResigned from the Delhi Assembly over the Jan Lokpal Bill on 14 February 2014.
WritingSwaraj, published in 2012
AwardsAshoka Fellow, Civic Engagement in 2004 Satyendra K. Dubey Memorial Award (2005) from IIT Kanpur for contribution to society Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006 CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Award in Public Service (2006) Distinguished Alumnus Award, IIT Kharagpur for Eminent Leadership (2009) The Association for India's Development awarded grant and fellowship (2009) Policy Change Agent of the Year, The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence (2010) NDTV Indian of the Year (2011, shared with Anna Hazare)
OthersA strict vegetarian and practitioner of the Vipassana meditation.

Blogs about Arvind Kejriwal
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Why Arvind Kejriwal Failed? : It’s a question that will take us back to the current political problems and their offshoots.  A man who made a surreal entry in the political arena hanged his boots of Chief Ministership within 49 days. From forming a government in Delhi to ending up with only four Lok Sabha seats, the downhill ride for AAP carries the same intensity of any acclaimed tragedy. You feel bad for the protagonist, who languishes in a dark…

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Last Updated on : February 17, 2014