Who is Arvind Kejriwal, the man who defeated Modi’s BJP in Delhi?

Arvind Kejriwal, an anti-corruption crusader-turned politician, has been re-elected chief minister for a third straight term in India’s capital after his Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party or AAP) registers a landslide victory over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Results declared on Tuesday by India’s Election Commission said the AAP led by Kejriwal won 62 seats, while the Hindu nationalist BJP managed the remaining eight in the 70-member Delhi assembly.


Kejriwal, 51, is a former bureaucrat and tax inspector who helped launch the AAP in 2012 to rid the Indian political system and government of corruption and inefficiency.

His party’s symbol - a broom - and its promise to sweep the administration of graft has struck a chord with New Delhi’s nearly 20 million people. In 2015, his party had won a landslide 67 seats.

Thank u so much sir. I look forward to working closely wid Centre to make our capital city into a truly world class city. https://t.co/IACEVA091c — Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 11, 2020

In the past five years, Kejriwal has pushed pro-poor policies, fixed state-run schools and provided free healthcare and utilities services.

The politician had previously stated he and his movement were not “wedded to any ideology but to solving problems”.

The AAP was founded in 2012 following nationwide anti-corruption protests led by self-proclaimed Gandhian, Anna Hazare. The protests were triggered by a slew of corruption scandals worth billions of dollars under the then-government headed by the Congress party.

Kejriwal rose to political prominence after defeating three-term Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in the 2013 assembly election.

But his first term as chief minister lasted just 49 days and ended in chaos when he quit over delays in the introduction of an anti-corruption ombudsman he was pushing for.

In 2015, he was sworn in for a second term after his party won a historic mandate, reducing the BJP to just three seats, while the Congress drew a blank.

Kejriwal hails from the northern Indian state of Haryana. He studied mechanical engineering at one of India’s premier educational institutions, the Indian Institute of Technology.

An unassuming bespectacled man always seen in unremarkable pants and shirt, the AAP leader is known as leader who appeals to an aspirational middle class.

Kejriwal’s popularity in New Delhi’s teeming slums rivals that of Modi, 69, the son of a tea-seller who has carved out an image as a man of the people.

During the campaign, the AAP leader was seen knocking on doors, listening patiently to people as they spoke of lack of water and other amenities.

Kejriwal has also taken on the Modi-led BJP, often accusing the party of pursuing a divisive agenda.

In a 2014 interview with Al Jazeera, Kejriwal had said: “Narendra Modi is not only a threat to the secular fabric of India but also to the country’s international image. His rhetoric on Pakistan, Bangladesh and China are just a few examples.”