Humble leader is seen by followers as an alternative to a jaded system AAM Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal does not mind a bit of comedy, even if the joke is on him.
In the midst of this month’s Delhi elections – in which his two-year-old political party decimated the opposition, winning 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly – he found time to star in a spoof video.
In the 11-minute video, he is interviewed by a comedian called Arnub, a comic take on well-known TV anchor Arnab Goswami, on a programme called Barely Speaking With Arnub.
He is ribbed about everything from his wardrobe to his racking cough and unflinching fight against corruption.
The interviewer starts out by asking him if he wants cough syrup, in a reference to his cough that is as prominent a hallmark as his ever-present muffler – and then asks him why he is badly dressed all the time.
Kejriwal giggles, but bites back: "My political opponents criticise me for my political statements, you are criticising me for my fashion statement, my wife keeps on criticising me for my blank bank statement."
The unassuming Kejriwal, who has shunned all trappings of power, is the politician of the moment in India. And not for the first time.
He has been here before, and what is remarkable is the scale of support for him this second time around after his last term as Delhi chief minister ended last year in chaos. He lasted less than two months in office.
Instead of fading into the shadows after a series of political disasters, he has learnt from his mistakes and, in the past year, many have seen the maturing of the politician, with his idealism combining with pragmatism.
He and his supporters have spent the past year quietly building up the AAP in Delhi and reaching out to voters. During the last election, he focused on breadand-butter issues, such as bringing down living costs and enhancing security in the capital.
Kejriwal, 46, promised to halve electricity bills and reduce water bills. He also drew votes from people afraid of the rise of far-right Hindu elements and attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to polarise votes along religious lines.
The result was an election win that is the largest by a party in Delhi and among the nation’s most stunning landslide wins.
Kejriwal represented the direct opposite of the carefully managed image of prime minister Narendra Modi.
While Kejriwal is known for wearing ill-fitting pants, V-neck sweaters and worn-out sandals, Modi drew flak for wearing a suit with his name woven into it while hosting US President Barack Obama.
With the Delhi election, Kejriwal ended the winning streak of Modi and his BJP, which had been riding a wave of popularity by winning a series of state elections.
"He is utterly charming and that comes from a sense of vulnerability. There is also something of the comic character in the sincerity and the naivete. When he protests, people know he protests on their behalf and that it is not an ego trip. He has a different idea of politics. He is a politician whose time has come," said sociologist Shiv Visvanathan.
The Chief Minister of Delhi has come a long way from a middle-class upbringing in Haryana, a state that neighbours Delhi.
The son of an electrical engineer, Kejriwal, who is deeply religious, was a bright student who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, where thousands of students sit for competitive exams to snag a few coveted seats.
He went on to become an income tax officer in the revenue service where he met his wife Sunita. They have two children.
But he soon grew disillusioned with his job and entered the world of social activism and set up his own organisation to work for transparency in government.
When the Right to Information Act came into being in 2005, he became one of its biggest advocates.
He held neighbourhood camps and taught people to fill in the forms and ways to approach the government for information under the Act.
In 2006, he was recognised for his effort and selected for the Ramon Magsaysay Award, a top Asian honour, for Emergent Leadership for social work and initiatives to fight corruption.
In 2010, he helped create India Against Corruption, a movement that exploded a year later amid widespread public disgust over graft involving allocation of mobile phone spectrum licences and corrupt practices in hosting the Commonwealth Games.
In 2012, he created the AAP, or Common Man Party.
He started attracting people from different walks of life, who were convinced he was the alternative to a jaded political system.
Kejriwal’s idealism and stance against corruption saw him win 28 of the 70 seats in elections in December 2013.
He formed the government with outside support from the Congress party and went on to offer free water and electricity subsidies, set up anti-corruption helplines and introduce a new style of politics – shunning such political privileges as a big house and large security detail.
But he and his party ran into trouble within a month, unable to make the transition from protester to administrator.
He earned ridicule for leading a street protest over a tiff with the police, sleeping on a footpath and holding meetings in his car.
He finally quit after 49 days in power over a failure to push through an anti-corruption law in the state assembly in February last year.
Since coming to power a second time, the AAP leader continues to stand apart from other Indian politicians.
He has repeatedly told his supporters not to become arrogant and has already refused the highest level of security.
At his swearing in, he said he was stunned by the size of the mandate.
"I knew the people of Delhi love me, but I didn’t realise they love me so much… 67 out of 70 seats!
"We cannot be arrogant. Remember that."