Ghaziabad, Dec 27: He may preside over the destiny of the Indian capital, but the house here where Arvind Kejriwal lives with his wife, two children and parents is a model of simplicity.
Flat 403 in the Girnar Tower in Kaushambi township, just outside Delh, is a three bedroom apartment, covering an area of 1,600 square feet.
The house is sparsely furnished, with no sign that one of its occupants will from Saturday be the chief minister of Delhi.
“We are lucky to have such a simple man among us who truly claims himself to be a common man (Aam Aadmi),” Manoj Pandey, president of the Kaushambi Apartments Residential Welfare Association, told IANS.
Until now, the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation had been apathetic to the area. Now it has deployed a sufficient quantity of sweepers to clean the roads daily.
Garbage is too lifted every day. Police patrolling has been intensified in the area. Naturally, residents feel more safe and secure now.
Ashok Pandey, a tea vendor outside Girnar Tower, is a happy man.
“Earlier Arvind Sir and his wife used to take a walk daily. He would smile at us. But in the last several months he has not been coming out for the morning walk.
“And now he is rarely seen coming out of the apartment complex. When he does, he is surrounded by party workers.”
But Pandey has no complaints. “He is too busy fighting for ordinary people like me who have come here to earn their bread and butter.”
Like Pandey, other vendors in the area — a tailor, a juice vendor, a vegetable seller — are all full of praise for income tax officer-turned-activist-turned-politician who has no airs.
“Our business is flourishing as all the journalists buy tea and snacks from us. At least 20 OB (outdoor broadcasting) vans are stationed here all the time,” Pandey told IANS.
“More cameras are installed at the children park inside the society,” he added.
The Girnar Tower is owned by the income tax department and the apartment is allotted to Kejriwal’s wife Sunita, who works there.
A member of the Indian Revenue Service, Kejriwal too was a commissioner in the income tax department but quit it to embrace social activism, which fetched him the Ramon Magsaysay award, and, later, politics.
“The entire complex is occupied by income tax employees. They are all colleagues but Kejriwal is altogether different from others,” Ajay Mishra, a resident of the adjacent Sumeru Tower, told IANS.
“The Kejriwals are shy and Arvind Kejriwal is very humble. He used to shop at local grocery shops and occasionally interact with neighbourers as well as others,” Mishra said.
Harish Chandra, a doctor who resides in the area, is also a virtual fan of Kejriwal, who spectacularly led the one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to near victory in the elections in Delhi this month.
Chandra feels the officials relish acting elite.
“But this ‘common man’, Kejriwal, has resisted all the trappings of power,” he said.
Some residents recall how Kejriwal was arrested for allegedly violating prohibitory orders near Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s house in New Delhi during protests against the December 2012 gang-rape of a woman.
“The officers who arrested Kejriwal although he was there with only one associate and thus did not violate the prohibitory orders should have been prosecuted by the government,” said Ayub Ali, another Kaushambi resident.
“But they were the blue-eyed boys of the ‘rulers’,” he said. “This is the basic difference betwee conventional politicians and Kejriwal.”
(S P Singh can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)