With Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, can we call it an era of the Aam Aadmis?

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New Delhi, Feb 11: Don't underestimate the power of common man: A blockbuster bollywood has this well-known and often quoted dialogue that holds true in politics these days, especially since Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister of West Bengal in 2011. Ever since, history started penning itself. Next was Narendra Modi and now Arvind Kejriwal.

Belonging to three completely different backgrounds, social settings and qualifications, these three may be 'anti' to one another but have a very common link-that they are mass politicians and have grown from the grassroot level. And needless to say, they brought dramatic twists in the history of Indian politics.

Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee

In an article in the Outlook Magazine, a very senior journalist listed out the daily chores of the CM. As quoted by the magazine:

"After her father's death, her mother sold 12 bighas of land they owned in Rampurhat and handed the money to her eldest son, Ajit, to invest in business so that the family could have a regular income. But it was Mamata - the second eldest - who held the family together. She woke up at 3.30 a.m. every day to cook for her four brothers and a sister and mother before going to college. She recalls gazing in bewilderment at her college friends when they passionately discussed clothes or films -luxuries she couldn't afford to even think about in those days."

Her journey starts here. Her first milestone was winning the Jadavpur constituency, defeating a very senior communist leader Somnath Chatterjee . Later on, she held many responsible roles in various parties including the NDA and the Congress. She single-handedly formed the TMC and struggled the Left forces to become the chief minister. Interestingly, she had a landslide win over the CPM, bringing an era of 35 years to a fullstop.

Academician and social scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote in Outlook in March 2012:

"She [Mamata Banerjee] may be mercurial, change her mind, but there is no trace of chicanery and cold calculation in her actions. In some sense her persona is a revolt against two social tendencies. Politically it is a revolt against politics as a form of dissimulation, and the cowardice and complicity it breeds...But more endearingly, it is also a revolt against the stylised self-presentation of the enlightened Bengali upper classes."

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Like Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi too belonged to a very humble background where his mother washed utensils in other people's houses to run the family. He worked as a chaiwala (tea vendor) himself to fend for his studies and training in the NCC. As a child, he had immense interest in reading books. He was also spiritually driven by teh works of Swami Vivekananda which laid the foundation of his journey towards spiritualism and which inspired him to pursue the mission to fulfill Swamiji's dream of making India a Jagat Guru.

At a tender age of 17, he left home and travelled across India, which changed his perspective of life tremendously. He then became an RSS pracharak with an aim to revive the society and its culture. His life took a headstart here. Impressed by his hard work, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took him under his wings and from there he came to know about the nuances of Governance. He became the chief minister of Gujarat for the first time in 2001 and remained as the CM for the next 4 terms before he was elected the Prime Minister of India in 2014.

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal

No he did not have to struggle much at the home front as he belonged to a middle class family. And with a Mechanical engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur, he did not have to look back. A brilliant student, he qualified the IRS in 1995. His journey began in the offices of the Tax Department where his work was hampered by incessant corruption. To counter that, he, along with Manish Sisodia founded a movement called the 'Parivartan'.

In 2000, Parivartan filed a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding transparency in public dealings of the Income Tax department, and also organized a satyagraha outside the Chief Commissioner's office. The group started protesting against several such cases until he met Anna Hazare, Aruna Roy and Shekhar Singh and joined a campaign to enact the Lok Pal Bil to end corruption.

In 2006, Kejriwal was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership recognising his involvement in a grassroots movement Parivartan using right-to-information legislation in a campaign against corruption. The same year, after resigning from the IRS, he donated his Magsaysay award money as a corpus fund to found the Public Cause Research Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO). He later parted ways with Hazare and formed his own party the Aam Aadmi Party on the same ideological lines.

A man of the masses and from the masses, his works were appreciated by the public that led to his sweeping victory in the Delhi Assembly elections for the second time.

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