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Uncommon man who stormed Delhi

REMARKABLE RISE: Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal trounced Delhi's three-time chief minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, in her own constituency on Sunday, and his party came close to winning control of the city.


    Dec 10, 2013

    Uncommon man who stormed Delhi


    SOME of the biggest celebrations of state-election results in Delhi on Sunday were not for the winners, but for the brand-new anti-graft Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party that stormed India's establishment to win a close second place.

    Hundreds of activists, wearing boat-shaped "Gandhi hats" bearing the slogan "I am a common man", gathered at the party's modest headquarters, cheering and waving brooms in the air to symbolise a clean-out of rotten politicians.

    The party is led by former civil servant Arvind Kejriwal, 45, who has vowed to end the stranglehold of India's two largest parties in the capital and beyond, and clean up politics in the process.

    Mr Kejriwal defeated the three-time chief minister of Delhi, Ms Sheila Dikshit, in her own constituency and his party came close to winning control of the city.

    The challenge for him now is to grow his movement in time for national elections due by May - a task that could pit him against leading opposition candidate Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    "I'm fully confident that, finally, the country will win, people will win, democracy will come, and India will win," Mr Kejriwal said, addressing supporters after bringing to an end Ms Dikshit's 15-year run in the city.

    The remarkable rise of the bespectacled Kejriwal from the ashes of a street-protest movement two years ago has shaken national parties which, only days before Sunday's results, had dismissed the buzz around the new party as hype.

    One internal survey ahead of the Delhi election found that about a third of the Aam Aadmi Party's supporters wanted to see Mr Modi as prime minister.

    The state results in Delhi were a resounding rejection of the Congress party, which has ruled India at the national level.

    The Aam Aadmi Party's door-to-door campaigning on a shoestring budget performed well against the multi-million-rupee advertising blitzes and mass rallies of the Congress and the BJP.