Lunch with an obsessive Kejriwal and a sullen Hazare

23 April 2014
Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi meet with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (left) in June 2011. At the meeting, Kumar promised to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill in his state.
PARVEEN NEGI / INDIA TODAY GROUP / GETTY IMAGES
Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi meet with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (left) in June 2011. At the meeting, Kumar promised to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill in his state.
PARVEEN NEGI / INDIA TODAY GROUP / GETTY IMAGES

Before Arvind Kejriwal was a politician, he was a civil activist who battled the UPA government for greater transparency and accountability in its functioning. The demand for the tabling of the Jan Lokpal bill powered the India Against Corruption movement and remains a central part of his party’s—the AAP—manifesto today. In this extract from our September 2011 profile, Mehboob Jeelani meets Kejriwal and his then partner in activism, now political rival, Anna Hazare, over lunch in a rented apartment in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi.

At the end of June 2011, I met Kejriwal as he was leaving a government guesthouse in South Delhi, accompanied by Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi. He had forgotten about the scheduled interview I had arrived to conduct, but when I introduced myself, he quickly motioned me into Manish Sisodia’s car, which followed Hazare and Kejriwal back to East Delhi.

The drafting committee exercise had already ended in failure, and Kejriwal and Team Anna were making the rounds to drum up support for the Jan Lokpal from other political parties. Sisodia excitedly explained that they had just emerged from a meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had promised to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill in his state. “Inki to phateygi ab (The politicians will get screwed now),” Sisodia proclaimed as we slid into the car. “If Nitish does that, automatically others will feel pressure.”

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    Mehboob Jeelani  is a former staff writer at The Caravan. He is currently studying for an MA in journalism at Columbia University.

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