Call it beginner’s luck or outcome of sheer hard work, Arvind Kejriwal has always aced his biggest challenges in his first attempt.
From clearing the IIT entrance examination and cracking the UPSC to becoming Delhi’s 7th chief minister, his successes have been at the first shot.
And after Tuesday’s thumping victory, he has proved there’s always a second chance for those who deserve it.
Early yearsBorn on August 16, 1968, at Sivani in Haryana, about 150 km from Delhi, Kejriwal was the first of the three children of Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi.
Always a topper in school, Kejriwal didn’t like to be disturbed while studying, at times locking himself up in the bathroom to avoid visiting neighbours.
After working there for three years, Kejriwal resigned in 1992. Opting for the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) instead, he cracked the civil services examination (UPSC) the same year in his first attempt.Kejriwal met his wife Sunita, a fellow IRS officer, during their training in Nagpur. They married in 1994.
Being in government service, Kejriwal was active in taking up social causes. Engaged with ‘Parivartan’, an activism organisation, he worked for implementation of Right to Information Act at 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.
A joint commissioner in the income tax department then, Kejriwal quit his job the same year and became a full-time activist. He formed an NGO called Public Cause Research Foundation with his award money as the corpus fund.
He said the RTI brought a revolutionary change in public discourse but it soon became clear it could only help dig out information but not punish the guilty. That’s how the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement began.
The Magsaysay award had made him a known face, but he truly came into the limelight during the IAC, also known as the Jan Lokpal agitation.
With Anna Hazare as its face and his public fasts, the IAC kept the UPA government on tenterhooks through 2011 and half of 2012, also prompting ordinary citizens to hit the streets demanding a strong Janlokpal.
While they were feeling "betrayed" by the government when it rejected their draft of the jan lokpal, 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” and root out corruption.
Kejriwal decided to take a plunge into politics and formed the Aam Aadmi Party on November 26 2012, after a formal split of Team Anna.
Many laughed at this move and dismissed Kejriwal as a political greenhorn, but he and his party started poll preparation way ahead in April.
The outcome was stunning.
Just one year into politics, Kejriwal made three-time Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit bite the dust during the 2013 polls. The Aam Aadmi Party bagged 28 seats in the 70-member assembly and the party chief sweeped Dikshit out not just from office but also her constituency.
Winning by a massive margin of 25,864 votes, Kejriwal became the 7th chief minister of Delhi from December 28, 2013, to February 14, 2014.
But, his brief stint was marred by several controversies. He finally quit office after 49 days as CM, following the deadlock over an anti-graft legislation.
His party hit a low when just four of its 400-odd candidates won in the Lok Sabha polls.
Despite the shocking defeat, campaigned hard in Delhi and reiterated he would not commit the same mistakes again if he got another chance. Banking on his anti-corruption agenda, he also put emphasis on providing Delhiites with cheap ‘bijli-paani’ (electricity and water).
And it paid off. The AAP won a historic mandate on Tuesday, bagging 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi.