Vadra and Reliance also have dismissed the allegations, and while there can be little doubt that corruption is deeply entrenched in India, analysts say not all of Kejriwal’s accusations would stand up in court.
Critics accuse him of choosing too many targets at the same time and of moving from issue to issue in a bid to remain at the top of the news agenda. The government has challenged him to take his evidence to court.
But Kejriwal insists it is the job of the authorities to investigate the allegations, just as it would be if he had witnessed a murder outside his house. This, he says, is a “street fight,” not a legal battle.
Attacking business ethics
Kejriwal still takes an early morning walk near his modest home in a New Delhi suburb, without police protection, shrugging off the idea that his life could be in danger.
“No one can take away my life as long as God wants me here,” he said, speaking in his car on his way to the rally.
The move from activism into politics was particularly controversial, splitting the India Against Corruption movement and leaving the man who had been its figurehead, Anna Hazare, on the sidelines.
Kejriwal admits that his new party is very weak organizationally and that he faces a huge challenge mobilizing the rural poor, who often vote along caste or community lines. Nor does the party have much of an agenda beyond the anti-corruption message.
He insists he is in favor of “ethical” business, but he has nothing good to say about the reforms that unleashed two decades of rapid economic growth here.
“We want to create conditions in our country where a businessman can actually lead an honest life, and they can do honest business,” Kejriwal said.
While Kejriwal has been mocked for trying to promote a rural idyll incompatible with modern India’s aspirations, Pratab Bhanu Mehta of the Center for Policy Research said his limitations are beside the point.
The way politicians have blamed the messenger without going after the culprits shows they still have not recognized the way the world has changed, Mehta said.
“India is on an astonishing cusp: the tragedy is that politicians, for the most part, are not running with the winds of change,” he wrote in the Indian Express. “When a country’s power elite plays victim, it is a sign that they have truly lost it.”
Suhasini Raj contributed to this report.