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Business News/ Politics / News/  From an anti-graft crusader to a CM behind bars: The political journey of Arvind Kejriwal in 5 points
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From an anti-graft crusader to a CM behind bars: The political journey of Arvind Kejriwal in 5 points

In the past decade since, there has been a noticeable shift in Arvind Kejriwal's image. He is no longer seen as the trademark bespectacled muffler-man who wears a Monte Carlo sweater and travels around in his iconic blue Wagon R.

 Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks during the Session of the State Legislative Assembly, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)Premium
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks during the Session of the State Legislative Assembly, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)

In November 2012, Arvind Kejriwal - who, along with social activist Anna Hazare, had dominated headlines during the anti-corruption movement - decided to launch a political party.

Kejriwal had said then that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was the result of ‘our’ struggle against corruption-ridden Indian politics. On December 28, 2013, Kejriwal, was sworn in as Chief Minister of Delhi in front of tens of thousands of supporters at the historic Ramlila Grounds in the national capital.

Muffler-Man

In the past decade since, there has been a noticeable shift in Arvind Kejriwal's image. He is no longer seen as the trademark bespectacled muffler-man who wears a Monte Carlo sweater and travels around in his iconic blue Wagon R.

Follow all Arvind Kejriwal Arrest LIVE updates here

The former Income Tax officer has been sworn in as Delhi's Chief Minister three times. His Aam Aadmi Party is now a national party with a formidable presence in two key states — Delhi and Punjab — where it is in power. Elsewhere, the party has won seats in Gujarat and Goa. The party has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Aam Aadmi Party has no member in the Lok Sabha.

On Thursday, Kejriwal, 55, became the first sitting Chief Minister of the country to be arrested for graft charges in the Delhi Liquor Policy by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

Full Circle

In February 2006, Kejriwal, an Indian Revenue Services officer, resigned from his position as Joint Commissioner of Income Tax in New Delhi. He became an activist and founded the Public Cause Research Foundation to campaign for transparent governance.

The Income Tax Department is governed by the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) and is part of the Department of Revenue under the Union Ministry of Finance. As fate would have it, the ED, which has arrested Kejriwal, is also part of the Department of Revenue in the Union Ministry of Finance.

Kejriwal's arrest on Thursday is related to the alleged graft in Delhi’s excise policy, which his government launched in 2021 to undertake significant reforms in the excise sector, including privatisation of liquor stores. Before Kejriwal, two senior party leaders, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, have been arrested in connection with the same case.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal's arrest is linked to this pharma firm’s electoral bond donations to BJP: Report

Though ED’s primary chargesheet didn't mention Kejriwal as an accused in the case, his name featured in a release following the arrest of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha on March 15.

‘Political Vendetta’

Aam Aadmi Party leaders have termed Kejriwal's arrest a political conspiracy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a charge the saffron party has dismissed. The BJP leaders ask why he skipped nine summons by ED, if he was so sure of his innocence.

The timing of Kejriwal's arrest is crucial as it comes weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. It also assumes significance because the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is part of the Opposition INDIA bloc, an amalgamation of parties, including the Congress, contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls together against the incumbent BJP.

Kejriwal is the second opposition Chief Minister to be arrested by ED in two different corruption cases in the last two months. Former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren was arrested by ED on January 31.

Due to his national presence, Arvind Kejriwal has been, at times, seen by some political observers as one of the probable challengers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in future.

IITian Chief Minister

Born in the Bhiwani district of Haryana on August 16, 1968, Kejriwal is the first of the three children of Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi. His father was an electrical engineer who graduated from the Birla Institute of Technology. Kejriwal graduated from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, majoring in mechanical engineering. He joined Tata Steel in 1989 and quit before becoming a civil servant in 1995.

Also Read: Can Arvind Kejriwal run government from behind the bars? Here is what the law says

During his transition from an anti-corruption crusader to a Chief Minister in ED custody, Arvind Kejriwal has also faced charges of being ‘politically dishonest’. Over the years, he has parted ways with many of his comrades, such as Kumar Vishwas, Prashant Bhushan, Ashutosh and Yogendra Yadav. Yet, most of them have unequivocally condemned his arrest.

Another criticism is about his old promise of never to contest elections. His populist schemes includes free electricity and water in Delhi has also faced flak.

Kejriwal has been known for his personal attacks on PM Modi, though there was a radio silence for some time. In 2015, Kejriwal had called PM Modi a 'coward and a psychopath,' in a tweet on X (formerly Twitter) raising heckles among the BJP members.

Work From Jail

As the Lok Sabha polls draw near, all eyes will now be on the legal fight that the Aam Aadmi Party takes to get its national convenor out of ED custody. Although there is no law that bars a CM from functioning from jail, it would be logistically impractical for Kejriwal to operate. No CM has ever done that.

What happens in the next few days will have a bearing on the party's political future at a time when the country goes to polls in a few weeks from now.

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Published: 22 Mar 2024, 12:30 PM IST
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