Call it beginner’s luck or the outcome of sheer hard work, Arvind Kejriwal has always triumphed over the biggest challenges in life at the very first shot, from clearing the IIT entrance exam to cracking the UPSC exam to becoming an MLA, and now becoming the chief minister of Delhi.
Born on August 16, 1968 in Hisar in Haryana, Kejriwal cleared the IIT entrance exam in his first attempt just after school in 1985 and graduated as a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur.
After completing his engineering, he joined Tata Steel in 1989 where he worked for three years. He resigned in 1992 and cracked the Civil Services Examination (UPSC) the same year in his first attempt.
Being in government service, Kejriwal was active in taking up social causes and worked for the implementation of the Right to Information Act at the grass roots level. His efforts in the enactment of the RTI Act to empower the poorest citizens of India won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006.
In February 2006, after resigning from the post of joint commissioner in the income tax department, he became a full-time activist and started an NGO, Public Cause Research Foundation, with his award money as the corpus fund.
The 45-year-old came into the limelight from the Jan Lokpal agitation led by his one-time mentor Anna Hazare in 2011. He was part of Team Anna, along with first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and others.
While they were feeling “betrayed” by the government when it rejected their draft, the Congress and leaders of other political parties challenged them to join politics, win elections and come to Parliament if they wanted to “fight the system from within”, root out corruption and get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed.
The indefatigable activist decided to take the plunge into politics and formed “Aam Aadmi Party” on November 26 last year, after a formal split from Team Anna. Many laughed at this move and others dismissed Kejriwal as a political greenhorn, but he and his party started poll preparations way ahead in April.
The outcome was stunning. The nascent AAP not only won 28 out of 70 seats in its debut election in Delhi but Kejriwal himself emerged as a giant killer sweeping Sheila Dikshit out not just from office but also her constituency.