Underdog Indian politician speaks for common man

Underdog Indian politician speaks for common man
Politician Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally after launching the Aam Admi party in New Delhi last year.

"Our most important agenda is a corruption-free Delhi," said Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal, squinting into a webcam in his campaign office in Delhi.

Watching him were about 50 Indians sitting miles away in a room in Singapore.

They listened quietly as Mr Kejriwal - a newly minted politician of the Aam Admi or Common Man Party - talked about bringing in strict anti-corruption legislation and transparency in government - if he wins the Delhi assembly elections next month.

Then he got down to the nuts and bolts.

"First," he said, "we need donations... Second, you can join our group, call up 30 people and convince them to vote for our party. And third, call up 20 of your friends and relatives in Delhi and ask them to vote for the Aam Admi Party."

With elections in the Indian capital a month away, Mr Kejriwal, initially dismissed by the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) as a lightweight, has emerged as a serious political contender with a shot at being chief minister of Delhi.

With his anti-corruption crusade and underdog stance, Mr Kejriwal and his party are winning supporters not just in India but also among the Indian diaspora.

So far, the party has received donation pledges worth four million rupees (S$80,600) from Indians in Singapore, party officials say. Contributions have also come from Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Mr Kejriwal, 44, is the former backroom boy for anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's movement, which took off in 2011 on support from middle-class Indians tired of graft scandals but eventually petered out.

In November last year, Mr Kejriwal used what was left of the momentum to launch a political party in Delhi. Opinion polls do not predict a straight-out win but give him a big chunk of the votes.

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