Love life to war on graft: Kejriwal bares it all in AAP mouthpiece

  • Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2015 08:08 IST

When Arvind Kejriwal's younger sister Ranjana fell ill just before her Class 8 exams, he stayed by her side all night to read out to her from her books and notes. It was one of those moments when the Delhi chief minister became aware of his responsibilities.

As dawn broke, Ranjana was up and ready to write her exams. "She somehow managed to write her papers the next day. She is a doctor now. I was the eldest (among siblings). But nobody made me realise my responsibilities. I don't know how this feeling slipped into me," Kejriwal is quoted as saying in the latest edition of the Aam Aadmi Party's mouthpiece 'Aap Ki Kranti'.

In an interview to the Hindi fortnightly, he recounted his love for studies, why he quit jobs, the influence of Mother Teresa, his love life, his parents' concerns about instability in his life, and how his fight against corruption began with just Rs 50,000.

The CM, who returned on Monday after naturopathy treatment in Bengaluru, faces the challenge of tackling the party's internal crisis. He is yet to respond to allegations of horse-trading and communal politics.

In the interview (given before he left for Bengaluru on March 5), Kejriwal said he went to Kolkata to meet Mother Teresa after writing his civil services exam. "I have been a fan of Mother Teresa. I said I wanted to work with her. She held my hands and asked me to go to Kalighat and work," he recounts.

He worked with her for two months. "We saw the poor on footpaths, in lanes and colonies in Kolkata... I realised the true meaning of service. This changed me completely," he says.

Born on August 16, 1968 at Siwani in Haryana, Kejriwal studied in different schools across Haryana and UP. He just loved to study. "I didn't realise when India's biggest engineering entrance test, IIT-JEE, became my dream," he says.

After studying mechanical engineering at IIT-Kharagpur, Kejriwal joined the Tata group in Jamshedpur. "The 10 to 5 job made me restless. I began realising I'm not meant for this." He wrote the civil services mains exams and without waiting for the interview call, he quit the job.

Kejriwal was associated with Ramkrishna Mission and Nehru Yuva Kendra and worked at several places in Haryana. "My parents remained very worried during this period. They had no clue about my whereabouts," he says.

In 1995, Kejriwal met Sunita, his batch mate at the civil services training institute in Nagpur, describing it as "the most beautiful thing in his life". "I proposed to her. She said yes. She has been my strength," Kejriwal says. They got married and were later posted as income tax officers in Delhi.

That's where he realised how deep-seated corruption was. "I kept meeting people associated with the anti-corruption movement. I thought of floating the NGO 'Parivartan' over dinner with non-office friends in 2000."

"My uncle and my brother contributed Rs 50,000. We distributed pamphlets and banners with our phone numbers and e-mail addresses. We asked people not to bribe income tax officials. I did all this while on study leave for two years. The next two years were 'leave without pay'," he says.

Parivartan solved 800 cases in 18 months. They filed several PILs to seek systemic changes.

"The Centre enacted the RTI Act after our agitation. But RTI had its own limitations. The battle ahead could not be fought with only an NGO. In April 2011, we joined Anna Hazare for Jan Lokpal. And the result was for all to see," he says.

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