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From Anti-corruption Crusader to Liquor ‘Scam’ Accused, Kejriwal’s Arrest Big Blow to AAP Before LS Polls

Last Updated: March 21, 2024, 22:08 IST

The 55-year-old AAP national convener's arrest may have serious repercussions on the poll fortunes of the party (Image: PTI/File)

The 55-year-old AAP national convener’s arrest may have serious repercussions on the poll fortunes of the party (Image: PTI/File)

The 55-year-old AAP national convener’s arrest may have serious repercussions on the poll fortunes of the party since he has been at the centre of its plans and strategy for the Lok Sabha election

From leading the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement to becoming the chief minister of Delhi thrice in a row, Arvind Kejriwal, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday, has had a chequered career as a bureaucrat-turned-activist-turned-politician. Kejriwal’s arrest comes at a time when his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is making a serious foray into electoral politics through a tie-up with its opposition INDIA bloc partner Congress for the Lok Sabha polls in Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat.

The 55-year-old AAP national convener’s arrest may have serious repercussions on the poll fortunes of the party since he has been at the centre of its plans and strategy for the Lok Sabha election. In his absence, the party stares at uncertainty as many of its other senior leaders are either in jail or in political obscurity.

His trusted aides — Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia — are in prison in connection with the excise policy case, while another trusted aide Satyendar Jain is in jail in a separate money laundering case. An IIT graduate, Kejriwal first led AAP to form the government in Delhi in 2013 with outside support from the Congress. He faced off with former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit in the New Delhi constituency and defeated her by a margin of 22,000 votes in his poll debut.

But the Aam Aadmi Party-Congress government lasted only 49 days as Kejriwal resigned since he was unable to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly. Buoyed by the party’s electoral gains in its first-ever elections in Delhi, Kejriwal announced his decision to face off with the BJP’s Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, only to face a crushing defeat.

The next year, Kejriwal led AAP to victory on 67 seats in the national capital, restricting the BJP, which was riding the Modi wave, to only three seats while the Congress drew a blank. In the run-up to the 2015 Assembly polls, he had constantly apologised for his actions during the 49-day tenure in 2013 and promised not to quit again.

Emerging from the anti-corruption movement of 2011, AAP was founded in the national capital by Kejriwal and his closest associates on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) the next year. Within a short span of 12 years, Kejriwal has single-handedly led AAP’s rise as the third largest national party of the country, following the BJP and the Congress, having its footprints not only in Delhi and Punjab but also in faraway Gujarat and Goa.

Kejriwal, who was challenged by politicians during his ‘India Against Corruption’ days to take a plunge into active politics to taste realpolitik, managed to keep issues like health, education, water and electricity supply as the core of his politics and governance, even as his detractors slammed him for giving up on his promise for Lokpal. Kejriwal, who rose to prominence as an activist riding on the widespread public anger over big-ticket corruption charges on the then Congress-led UPA regime in 2011, still maintains the streak, slamming politicians over the dilapidated condition of health and education in the country.

In his over a decade-long political journey, Kejriwal has shown a variety of moves, be it joining the INDIA bloc of opposition parties, whose leaders he earlier slammed over corruption issues, or adopting a “soft Hindutva” approach exemplified by his free pilgrimage scheme and the recent chanting of “Jai Sri Ram” slogans in the Delhi Assembly. Once he had demanded to put photos of Ganesha and Lakshmi on currency notes for the economic prosperity of the country.

AAP’s claim of pursuing corruption-free governance and alternative politics receives a big dent as Kejriwal goes to jail in connection with the liquor scam case. While defending Sisodia, Singh and Satyendar Jain, Kejriwal used to call corruption “treason” and assert that AAP follows the path shown by Bhagat Singh.

The arrest of Kejriwal in a corruption case is indeed a big departure from his earlier persona as an AAP leader holding a 14-day fast in 2013 to put pressure on the then Sheila Dikshit government for action over “inflated” water and electricity bills. Having positioned himself among the top politicians in the country, Kejriwal has come a long way in a relatively short span of his political journey that began as a thin, bespectacled, muffler-clad leader of a fledgling party around 2014-15 that earned him the “mufflerman” nickname.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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