Kejriwal poses fresh challenge for Modi

Saturday, May 18, 2024

NEW DELHI: Firebrand Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal has hit the ground running since his surprise release from detention in the midst of a contentious general election, energising the opposition as it challenges Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Supreme Court gave 55-year-old Kejriwal, who is also the chief minister of the national capital territory of Delhi, bail in a graft case on May 10 and he wasted no time in getting on the campaign trail.

“I have only one request from you, we all have to come together to save the country from dictatorship. I am fighting this dictatorship with all my might,” he told a jubilant crowd soon after walking out of Delhi’s Tihar jail, clearly referring to Modi.

Kejriwal is part of the INDIA alliance led by the Congress party and one of its biggest crowd-pullers. Analysts say while his campaigning will give fresh impetus to the opposition, they are unsure if that will translate into any significant victories against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is tipped to return to power.

Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in power in the Delhi region and in the northern state of Punjab, which together account for just 20 seats in parliament, out of the 543 being contested.

“He may be able to generate some sympathy vote, but would that be enough to change the outcome of the election?” said Rahul Verma, a fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think tank.