Kejriwal and his legacy of dharnas

| | New Delhi

It is unusual for a Chief Minister to stage a ‘dharna’ inside Raj Niwas, but Arvind Kejriwal is an exception. Right from his “India Against Corruption” days, Kejriwal, the quintessential Aam Aadmi (common Man), has always been in the combative gear.

His first such sit-in was against the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government when he alongwith his colleagues sat on protest near Rail Bhawan on a bitterly cold January 2014 night. Arvind Kejriwal, it seems is the politician who can never change his activist stripes.

 Stretching out on a sofa in the Lieutenant Governor’s office, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief, who on Tuesday resolved to spend second night at Lt Governor’s office with three of his colleagues to press for their demands, including a direction to IAS officers to end their “four-month” strike, homes in on the most unorthodox ways to make his point.

Kejriwal, who has been Chief Minister for two stints, once from December 2013 to February 2014 and now from February 2015, began his first term, not in an office car but in his trademark, somewhat battered, blue Wagon R and insisting that he did not want security.

The following month, in January 2014, he and members of his Cabinet spent the night outside Rail Bhawan, close to the draughty greens of India Gate, to demand action against policemen who allegedly refused to cooperate with then Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti during a raid on a suspected drug and prostitution racket in South Delhi.

 Photographs of him huddled under a quilt in the cold were circulated widely, not just in India but elsewhere in the world. During the protest, he was seen doing his office work from the street side with files being brought to him.  When the cold got too much and it started raining, Kejriwal’s wife Sunita insisted that he move. So he did, inside his trusted blue Wagon R.

 The deadlock was broken when then L-G Najeeb Jung urged him to call off the protest and sent over some hot paranthas from his kitchen, opening the door for negotiations. 

 In October 2012, just after he announced the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party, activist Kejriwal launched an agitation for water and electricity against the then Sheila Dikshit Government for inflated power bills.Under the campaign, Kejriwal and his supporters clambered on an electricity pole to restore the power connection of a labourer, who claimed that he got a bill for Rs 15,000 and his connection was disconnected because he couldn’t pay up.

Kejriwal, who first came into the national limelight during the movement for a Lokpal bill, has often gone on a hunger strike in the past, notwithstanding his tenuous health.



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