Who is Arvind Kejriwal: Sheila Dikshit asked on poll day, then in defeat said, 'Hum toh bewakoof hain'

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 12 2013, 17:15pm hrs
Sheila DikshitWhen it was clear Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal would win, Sheila Dikshit faxed her resignation from the post. (IE Photo: Renuka Puri)
On December 4, when Delhi cast its vote for the Assembly elections, its three-time Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, was visibly irritated when mediapersons asked her if the new entrant in Delhi politics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal, was any competition. "Who is Arvind Kejriwal What is AAP Can you call it a party that can be compared to the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) AAP is generally talked about because the gentleman and the party have a way of projecting themselves," she retorted.

Four days later, on Sunday, within a couple of hours after counting started, it became clear that Arvind Kejriwal would defeat Sheila Dikshit from her constituency in New Delhi. The AAP headquarters in Connaught Place, central Delhi, became the centre of noisy celebrations, while Dikshit's house on Motilal Nehru Marg wore a deserted look. While visuals of a victorious, smiling Kejriwal flashed across television channels, Dikshit shut herself inside her house, refusing to meet visitors who trickled in, or the waiting media. It took another couple of hours for the staggering margin of Sheila Dikshit's defeat to sink in, a trend that was captured in numbers by evening 25,864 votes finally.

Dikshit, who has long been one of the most accessible politicians, emerged outside for a brief appearance at around 1 pm, to formally accept her defeat. "I thank the people of Delhi for supporting our government for 15 years. I also want to thank the media for supporting us. We respect the verdict. An analysis will be done later on what went right, what went wrong," she said. When asked if she thought they had failed to read the pulse of the people, Sheila Dikshit retorted, "Haan... hum toh bewakoof hain," before walking inside.

Soon after the AAP registered its party's symbol in September, Arvind Kejriwal had announced he would contest the polls from Dikshit's constituency. In his campaigns, he took on Dikshit personally, targeting her for the rising prices and "corruption".

Both the Congress and BJP dismissed Arvind Kejriwal in their campaigns, insisting that the Assembly elections would be a two-way fight. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had said "a vote to AAP would be a wasted vote". Even in the last few days, when nearly all exit polls made a conservative estimate of a few seats for AAP, Dikshit dismissed the predictions and said she did not believe in exit polls.

On Sunday, Dikshit's house saw few visitors. Sources said her sister, son and daughter were by her side. Her granddaughter, who is usually willing to speak about her, refused to be photographed. "Not today," she said. "The TV was switched on after almost a week, and the family sat down together. Within an hour of counting, however, the mood had become grim, when an idea of the extent of the debacle started emerging," said a Congress worker who went inside to meet Dikshit.

Sources said Dikshit faxed her resignation from the post of CM before afternoon, without waiting for the declaration of the results. "She has been unwell after the hectic campaigning and has remained largely indoors, analysing the elections with her close aides... When she saw the trends, the resignation letter was drafted and sent," said a source.