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Early life, family
Born in Hisar, Haryana, on 16 August 1968 to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi. Kejriwal was born in a middle-class family in Siwani, Bhiwani district, Haryana on 16 August 1968, 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, Mesra, and whose work led to many changes in the family's residence. Kejriwal is married to Sunita, who is also an IRS officer and his batch mate from National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie. The couple have two children, a daughter and a son. He has a younger sister and brother.
Kejriwal spent most of his childhood in north Indian towns such as Sonepat, Ghaziabad and Hisar.
Education: a star debater
He was educated at Campus School in Hisar and at a Christian missionary school at Sonipat. Kejriwal graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, majoring in mechanical engineering.
Moved by a young boy's oratorial skills, Asha Srivastava had adjudged him best speaker at a debate competition in school. He subsequently became her student. The next time she came face to face with him was last week, the same skills amplified manifold, as he spoke at Ramlila Maidan, drawing people in droves to a political pulpit he had just reincarnated.
Sitting in front of the television in her Gurgaon home, the septuagenarian watched Arvind Kejriwal, the boy she had taught history to in classes IX and X, change the course of Indian political history at his swearing-in ceremony as chief minister of Delhi, capping a phenomenal debut for his Aam Aadmi Party.
Srivastava taught Kejriwal during his academic years at Hisar in the early 80s, at the Campus School in CCS Haryana Agricultural University. "As a teenager, his sincerity was touching," she said, speaking of her former student the same way the common man now speaks of the new Delhi CM. "I always knew Arvind had a brilliant mind and he would do well in life," added Srivastava, who retired in 2001.
Like his political journey in Delhi, Kejriwal was an outsider in the Hisar school as well because it mostly admitted children of university employees. But with his meritorious academic record, Kejriwal got admission there. "He was part of the school's debating team, participated in various events, and won many competitions," said Srivastava, who had met Kejriwal before he came to Campus School.
"I first saw him as a boy participating in an inter-school debate, where I was the judge of the event. I adjudged him best speaker. Now, when I see him speaking on TV, I recall the same firmness and sincerity I witnessed decades ago," Srivastava said.
In class, she recalled, he used to ask questions relating to politics, history and the passion he had for debating was worth noticing. "I always asked him to read books outside the usual course and syllabus which he followed as a student," said Srivastava.
Unfortunately after class tenth, she has not met Kejriwal but always came to know about his achievements. Being herself an AAP supporter, she is waiting for the party to fight election in Gurgaon and Haryana this year. "Everyone wants to get rid of corrupt politicians and system I am sure much like Delhi, people of Gurgaon will also support AAP for corruption-free governance," she said.
Career as a professional
After completing his engineering, he joined Tata Steel in 1989 and after working for three years, he resigned in 1992. He later joined Indian Revenue Service in 1995 after qualifying the civil services examination.
Kejriwal joined the IRS in 1995 after qualifying through the Civil Services Examination. In November 2000, he was granted two years' paid leave to pursue higher education on condition that upon resuming his work he would not resign from the Service for at least three years. Being in government service, Kejriwal was active in taking up social cause and worked for implementation of Right to Information Act at grass root level.
In 2006, Kejriwal was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership recognising his involvement in a grassroots movement Parivartan using right-to-information legislation in a campaign against corruption. In December 2006, Kejriwal established the Public Cause Research Foundation in December 2006, together with Manish Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri.
In his eagerness to serve the nation, Arvind resigned from the prestigious IRS service.
He was a part of the Team Anna, along with first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and others. He was the civil society representative member of the committee constituted by the Government to draft the jan lokpal bill, following the campaign for introduction of such legislation. Arvind Kejriwal extended his full support to Anna Hazare's 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, which was a series of demonstrations and protests across India intended to establish strong legislation and enforcement against perceived endemic political corruption. The movement was named among the "Top 10 News Stories of 2011" by Time magazine.
Physical assaults on Kejriwal
Physical assaults on Kejriwal, 2013-2018
After feeling "betrayed" by the government when it rejected their draft, Congress and other leaders challenged them to join politics, win elections and come to Parliament if they wanted to "fight system from within", root out corruption and get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed. Known for taking on challenges, the indefatigable activist decided to take a plunge into politics and formed "Aam Aadmi Party" on November 26, 2013, after a formal split of Team Anna.
The party name — Aam Aadmi Party — reflects the phrase Aam Aadmi or "common man", whose interests Kejriwal proposed to represent and got its poll symbol "broom" in July 2013.
For taking on seasoned politicians like three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and other BJP leaders, Kejriwal and his party tried different strategies like going on 15-day long hunger strike on the issue of power tariff in May 2013.
2013 Delhi Assembly elections
To inject some drama, the anti-corruption crusader even filed his papers on November 16, 2013 on the last date of filing of nominations, after Dikshit filed her nomination, just to ensure a straight fight with her. To woo the electors, the party put up posters on auto-rickshaws against Dikshit flagging burning issues of women safety, corruption and high power and water tariffs.
Thousands of AAP volunteers, from Delhi and outside and even abroad, joined him in the hope that Kejriwal would do a miracle. They even took sabbaticals to join his movement. Known as meticulous planner, Kejriwal and his team planned every thing right down to the booth level to help swung votes in their favour. Even selection of party symbol "broom" was part of their plans to strike a chord with the balmiki community, who mostly work as safai karamcharis in the three BJP-led municipal corporations, which used to be perceived as a traditional Congress vote bank.
Among the other firsts, he and his party decided to come up with 70 assembly-based manifestos and a common one for Delhi, which was followed by the BJP but it failed to bring out more than one or two.
An engineer-turned-civil servant Arvind Kejriwal cemented his place in politics with a stunning political debut for his nascent Aam Aadmi Party and emerged in Dec 2013 as a giant killer to sweep Sheila Dikshit out from not only office but also her constituency. Kejriwal started his power run by scrapping the offensive symbols of VIP culture - cars fitted with red beacons and screeching hooters. His ministers also stayed in their regular accommodation, shunning the sprawling bungalows in leafy corners in Lutyens' Delhi.
Often poked fun at by politicians, the former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer was challenged by none other than senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal in — not to criticize the political system as an outsider but join it to cleanse it from within.
Belying all claims of being a "non-actor or no factor" in the Delhi assembly elections by Congress and BJP, Kejriwal was largely instrumental in snapping the 15-year rule of incumbent chief minister.
2014: Wanted to quit politics
`Kejri wept at 2014 meet, wanted to quit politics'
Himanshi Dhawan The Times of India Mar 09 2015
Was Upset By Strife Within AAP: Ashutosh
Pushed to the wall by intra-party strife after the Lok Sabha debacle, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had decided to quit politics.Delhi election committee group member Ashutosh on Sunday said Kejriwal was so disheartened by allegations that AAP had a “supremo style“ that he had decided to hang up his boots.
“Kejriwal was so upset after the June 2014 national executive meeting that he discussed it with his family and decided to quit politics for good. It was only after both Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan met him the next day and convinced him that he changed his mind, Ashutosh, a Kejriwal confidant, said. He added that Yadav and Bhushan had assured Kejriwal that they would work under his leadership.
The disclosure comes even as the party appears to be divided between the Bhushan-Yadav duo and Kejriwal's supporters. The differences led to the duo's ouster from AAP's political affairs committee on March 4.
In his book `The Crown Prince, The Gladiator And The Hope', Ashutosh recalls that Yadav had resigned from all party posts alleging that AAP had fallen prey to a “personality cult“.
The book says, “Arvind's face fell. He rose and excused himself to leave the room. He started to say something, but could not complete it. He broke down and as tears fell unheeded, he crumbled to the floor.“ Anjali (Damania, AAP leader from Maharashtra who unsuccessfully contested against Nitin Gadkari) and I (Ashutosh) rushed to him. She put her arms around him... Soon, Anjali began crying as well and shouted, `We should all be ashamed of ourselves. This is what we have given him'. After some time, Arvind regained his composure.By now, everyone had gathered around him,“ says the book `The Crown Prince, The Gladiator And The Hope'. The book adds that Kejriwal said, “I have not left my job and other good things of life just to become a convener of the party . I don't want this. Please elect someone as the national convener.“
Ashutosh said around August-September 2014, Shanti Bhushan wrote a “nasty letter to Kejriwal threatening to “expose“ him if he didn't step down as national convener and make way for Yadav . He claimed that Yadav and Bhush an were planning to remove Kejriwal for a long time and wanted AAP to lose the Delhi assembly elections. “We didn't want this issue to go into public, but efforts were being made to remove Arvind from the convener's post,“ Ashutosh said.
Meanwhile, responding to questions on infighting, Yadav said he had told party men that there should be no more questions and answers. “Everybody is working for the party, infighting and similar other words were used in the last 5-7 days.Party workers have come with a lot of hope and expectations, they do not want it should go on further and I also do not want it to go on further... I have also told party men no more questions and answers now. It is enough. Now work is to be done. We have not come here to fight with each other, we are here to remove corruption,“ he told reporters in Panchkula.
“A lot of things have happened in the last few days. I have requested all party workers that whatever happens, do not lose faith and hope in the party and its idea,“ he added.
Feb 2015: changes the political landscape
Kejriwal’s AAP swept the Delhi Assembly polls, winning 67 of Delhi's 70 assembly seats, leaving rivals BJP with 3 seats and the Congress with none.
2015: a comeback
The Times of India Feb 11 2015
Common man, uncommon comeback
How the AAP Chief retrieved a near impossible situation & scripted a house wapsi
Politics can be as brutal as boxing. When the punches, jabs and barbs sting your face, there's nowhere to hide. No one cares about the bruises on your body , or the knocks your ego takes. When you fall everybody cheers. Sometimes, just sometimes, there's a twist in the tale. Down for the count, a boxer staggers back to his feet. He draws from a secret reserve of strength, rains unexpected blows on his rival and pulls off the improbable. Arvind Kejriwal has done something like that. Slaughtered in last summer's national polls, pummelled by the press, mocked by rivals and largely shunned by the public, the AAP mascot fashioned one of the most romantic comebacks in India's new-millennium politics. AAP 67, BJP+ 3, Congress 0 -a knockout. As his saffron rivals might say , it's that upadravi (disruptive) gotra at work.
In 2013, Kejriwal was the poster boy of a brave new India. He was the cri de coeur of commoners against the entrenched political elite, the anti-graft crusader who had brought that dirty eight-letter word, idealism, back in politics. In doing so, the former IRS officer had underlined the possibility of real alternative politics, of an engagement beyond the BJP-Congress binary , of the idea of another India. The AAP's failure to win a seat in Delhi in LS polls (although its vote share rose marginally) was a body blow to every citizen who felt the party was the agency of an experiment that could fundamentally alter the way politics was conducted in the country .
The beauty of Kejriwal's second coming is that few expected it; certainly not last year's opinion polls. When the campaign began, BJP resembled a juggernaut. Under the Modi-Shah combine, the saffron party attained an LS majority when everybody thought coalition governments were inevitable. Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra -no bridge was too far for the duo. With Congress comatose and AAP supposedly reeling from the shock loss, the Delhi battle seemed a walk in the park. Early opinion polls showed BJP in pole position.
Senior AAP members say if anyone was certain the party could make a comeback, it was Kejriwal. “ After we resigned last year, stories were planted that the party is falling apart. Some of us were disappointed. Arvind was sure it wouldn't happen. He radiates posi tivity,“ says party leader Manish Sisodia.
Senior member Ashutosh says everyone in AAP was feeling low after the LS setback.“Arvind's view was: Nothing is impossible.He was clear people were angry with AAP only because we quit the government, not for any adverse reason like corruption.He was positive our party had earned goodwill and enjoyed high approval for what it did in its 49-day rule.“
What followed under Kejriwal was a masterclass in grassroots politics. “The three main critical views against AAP were iden tified. We were regarded as bhagora (not interested in governance), too ambitious (aspiring for national prominence without doing local work) and addicted to dharnas (habitual agitationists),“ says Ashutosh.
The idea was to address these issues.Kejriwal was clear about going to the people and apologizing for quitting. “People had to be assured that the party had the vision and desire to govern. We'd first coined a slogan: Dilli kahe dil se, Kejriwal phir se. But it didn't address the bhagora issue. So we came up with Paanch saal Kejriwal. This was a statement of intent: We're here for the long haul,“ he says.
No magic bullet
This time AAP decided to go beyond the Jan Lokpal Bill as a magic cure for all ills. Delhi Dialogues was launched in November. The idea was to create a participatory manifesto following exchanges between experts and common people -professionals, homemakers, youth, residents in JJ clusters and unauthorized colonies -across the city . Dharnas were dumped.
AAP's preparation had depth and detail.Kejriwal attended 110 public meetings. Sources say it was his idea to posit Jagdish Mukhi's face as BJP's CM candidate on the back of autos early on in the campaign though the party had made no such announcement. Kejriwal's cough and muffler had turned into a viral joke. But a cool social media poster titled, Muflerman (sic) Returns: The Corruption Hunter, a take-off from the Hollywood movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, turned the joke on its head.
In the national elections, Modi spoke of development. Kejriwal's tirade was more personal. Now roles were reversed.Kejriwal focused on the electorate rather than BJP and forced the rival to a more extreme and negative position. Among other things, he was called “a bandar“, “a thief “, “toxic“ and worse. The AAP leader wasn't pugnacious but didn't back off when pushed. When Arun Jaitley accused AAP of taking hawala money , Kejriwal dared him to arrest him. It was truth or dare.Kejriwal won the face-off.
Social commentator Santosh Desai says this election saw a very different and more substantive Kejriwal. “He avoided confrontation, negative strategies and overtly aggressive postures. He focused on his strengths such as the positive public memory of his 49-day government. People were disappointed and angry with Kejriwal for shirking his duty . Which is different from not being worthy of it. Even his campaign against Kiran Bedi was handled with finesse, restraint, and without malice,“ says Desai.
“It's a feat building a movement on the middle-class desire for change, their anger against corruption. Then losing out in the national polls, rebuilding your party , reformulating strategy and defeating a party that looked unbeatable,“ he adds.
On the last day of campaigning, Kejriwal's grey Innova and his kaafila stop at a red light near North Block.Two young men on bicycles spot him. They rush with cellphones for selfies. It's not a meeting of two voters and an ex-CM. With Kejriwal, there's no fear or pedestal. The distance between a political leader and an ordinary citizen collapses.
A little later, at an informal meeting with journalists, washing down a parantha with chai, the Magsaysay winner smiles and says, “People are greeting me during the campaign as if I'm CM.“
People are prescient. It is said BJP president Amit Shah had never lost an election he supervised. Arvind Kejriwal showed that there's always a first.