India anti-graft leader slammed over flying business class to Dubai

Arvind Kejriwal was snapped by a fellow passenger, sitting in business class on an Emirates flight and being offered a glass of juice by a flight attendant on his way from Delhi to pick up an award.
Arvind Kejriwal takes part in a protest in New Delhi on January 20, 2014, while he was the Delhi chief minister. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Arvind Kejriwal takes part in a protest in New Delhi on January 20, 2014, while he was the Delhi chief minister. Sajjad Hussain / AFP

NEW DELHI // The leader of India’s anti-corruption “Common Man’s Party”, a long-time scourge of the country’s elite, drew widespread ridicule on Friday after being pictured flying business class to Dubai.

Arvind Kejriwal was snapped by a fellow passenger, sitting in business class and being offered a glass of juice by a flight attendant on his way from Delhi to pick up an award.

The picture was circulated on social media.

The former tax inspector made a point of using public transport rather than use his official car during a tumultuous 49 days as Delhi’s chief minister this year, including to his own inauguration.

During May’s general election, he also attacked his fellow party leaders for their jet-set lifestyles, deriding what he called “helicopter democracy” as he canvassed from the back of a battered and ageing jeep.

Meenakshi Lekhi, a member of parliament for prime minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, said that the photo “exposed” Mr Kejriwal as a hypocrite.

“This is not how common people live,” Ms Lekhi, who represents Delhi in the national parliament, said.

“I am not saying it is wrong to aspire for a better lifestyle, it is a question of pretences. Don’t pretend to be what you are not.

“This Mr Jekyll and Hyde cannot work.”

A spokeswoman for the rival Congress party meanwhile said that “the real face of the party has been revealed” by the picture.

While there was no immediate response from Mr Kejriwal, some of the top lieutenants in his Aam Aadmi Party said that the row was a storm in a tea cup.

“Delhi is facing problems such as shortage of water and electricity is this the only issue that people are concerned about?” said Pankaj Gupta, the party’s national secretary.

Mr Kejriwal quit as Delhi chief minister in February, only weeks after his party’s spectacular electoral breakthrough in state elections ended Congress’s 15-year rule in the capital.

Delhi has been governed in the interim by federal authorities but fresh elections are expected in February when Mr Kejriwal will try to stage a comeback.

Mr Kejriwal also stood against Mr Modi in Varanasi during the May general election but he was soundly beaten.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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