Anna’s sidekick to Delhi’s messiah: Arvind Kejriwal’s meteoric rise to power

Image: AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh
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Arvind Kejriwal has transformed Indian politics—and in the process, the Aam Aadmi Party leader has also managed to transform how the media views him.

From a vocal anti-corruption campaigner to an upstart politician, here is how the press has described Kejriwal’s rite of passage that has now culminated in his becoming Delhi’s chief minister for the second time.

“Hazare’s chief arbitrator”

“In the words of exasperated government negotiators who spent hours trying to reason with him in the last two days, Hazare’s chief arbitrator calibrated each condition to remote-control the anger on the streets.”

India Today, August 2011

“…an impassioned professor…”

“When questions are posed to Kejriwal, he responds like an impassioned professor explaining a complicated problem—piling detail upon detail with the supreme confidence that his answer is the correct one. His essential message never changes: only a powerful independent anti-corruption agency, with wide-ranging authority and minimal government interference, can cure the plague of graft—and anything less will fail.”

— A Caravan profile titled The Insurgent, September 2011

“Prominent activist and key Anna associate”

“Prominent activist and key Anna associate Arvind Kejriwal claimed the income-tax notice asking him to pay dues of 9 lakh to the government is prompted by “political bosses” and without merit.”

The Economic Times, September 2011

“Anti-corruption activist”

Mint, October 2012

“India’s most vocal crusader against corruption…”

— A New Yorker profile titled The Agitator, September 2013


“Giant-killer Arvind Kejriwal, who defeated three-time Chief Minister and Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit in the New Delhi constituency, is nothing short of a political sensation, and his personal victory can be compared to the maverick Raj Narain’s electoral win over prime minister Indira Gandhi in the historic 1977 general election.”

India Today, December 2013

“Mercurial Delhi chief minister”

The Express Tribune, February 2014

“Antithesis of the modern-day Indian politician”

“Arvind Kejriwal is the antithesis of the modern-day Indian politician. He’s no Hindu nationalist, he doesn’t have a famous surname, and no, there is no evidence that he has made money from politics.”

TIME, April 2014


“While AAP supporters welcomed Kejriwal with flowers, there were also posters in and outside the railway station that labelled the former Delhi chief minister as ‘bhagoda’ (deserter).”

Deccan Chronicle, April 2014

“The poster boy of new-age politics”

“Arvind Kejriwal, the poster boy of new-age politics who had fired the imagination of the country with a spectacular debut in Delhi assembly elections, will now have to go in for some serious introspection. Drawing a blank in his party’s original karmabhoomi Delhi and a grand total of four seats is not what he had promised in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014.”

Firstpost, May 2014


“He also wore his trademark muffler (scarf or neck-wrap) in most of his public appearances during his stint and even after resigning. The AAP leader is once again campaigning to win the upcoming Delhi state assembly elections. And the muffler is back again this winter – not only around his neck but also on Twitter. The hashtag “MufflerMan” has been trending on Twitter for the last few days.”

BBC, November 2014


Indian Express, February 2015

“Messiah of masses”

“As every opinion poll reveals, Modi is still the hero of the middle-class and the rich, but Kejriwal has become the messiah of the masses. To carry on with the Bachchan metaphor, Modi is now the Amitabh of the multiplexes while Kejriwal has usurped the role of the Vijay of single-screen cinemas.”

— Firstpost, February 2015