NEW DELHI - India’s anti-corruption champion Arvind Kejriwal failed Friday to win a seat in the country’s general election, at which his upstart party made its national debut.
Kejriwal, who rose to national prominence on a wave of voter anger against endemic corruption, lost his fight against impending prime minister Narendra Modi in the seat of Varanasi. The former tax official-turned-politician trailed by a massive 300,000 votes in the Hindu holy city, where he had been locked in a high-profile battle against Modi during the mammoth election. Kejriwal said he was disappointed with results for his fledgling Aam Admi (Common Man) Party, which only managed to win four seats nationwide.
“It was a good start for us for a first election ... but we are disappointed with the results in Delhi,” a visibly disappointed Kejriwal told reporters in Varanasi. “This is not our election, this is an election of the people. We respect the verdict of the people,” he added. Modi and his opposition Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) have stormed to victory over the ruling Congress, and were on course to become the first party in three decades to reach a single majority in the 543-member national parliament.
Kejriwal and his party made headlines six months ago when they stunned the major parties at the Delhi assembly elections.
The party came to power in Delhi after tapping into seething voter anger over graft in government and for Indians in every day life.
But Kejriwal’s decision to resign 49 days after taking power last December is thought to have waned his popularity as a serious political contender who could take on the tough job of governing.
His party, formed less than two years ago on small donations from Indians, was never expected to win more than a handful of seats at the election, given the massive expense of running a national campaign and the logistical difficulties of running for office in the vast country.