India anti-graft leader Arvind Kejriwal rapped over business class trip

Delhi's then-chief minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media at the venue of his sit-in protest in New Delhi on Jan 21, 2014. The leader of India's anti-corruption "Common Man's Party", a long-time scourge of the country's elite, drew widespread
Delhi's then-chief minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media at the venue of his sit-in protest in New Delhi on Jan 21, 2014. The leader of India's anti-corruption "Common Man's Party", a long-time scourge of the country's elite, drew widespread ridicule Friday after being pictured flying business class to the Gulf. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The leader of India's anti-corruption "Common Man's Party", a long-time scourge of the country's elite, drew widespread ridicule Friday after being pictured flying business class to the Gulf.

Arvind Kejriwal was snapped by a fellow passenger, sitting in business class and being offered a glass of juice by a flight attendant on his way from Delhi to Dubai where he is to pick up an award. The picture was circulated on social media.

The former tax inspector made a point of using public transport rather than use his official car during a tumultuous 49 days as Delhi's chief minister earlier this year, including to his own inauguration.

During May's general election, he also attacked his fellow party leaders for their jet-set lifestyles, deriding what he called "helicopter democracy" as he canvassed from the back of a battered and ageing jeep.

Meenakshi Lekhi, a member of parliament for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, said that the photo "exposed" Kejriwal as a hypocrite.

"This is not how common people live," Lekhi, who represents Delhi in the national parliament, told AFP.

"I am not saying it is wrong to aspire for a better lifestyle, it is a question of pretenses. Don't pretend to be what you are not.

"This Mr Jekyll and Hyde cannot work."

A spokeswoman for the rival Congress party meanwhile said that "the real face of the party has been revealed" by the picture.

While there was no immediate response from Kejriwal himself, some of the top lieutenants in his Aam Aadmi (Hindi for 'Common Man') Party said that the row was a storm in a tea cup.

"Delhi is facing problems such as shortage of water and electricity, is this the only issue that people are concerned about? " asked Pankaj Gupta, the party's national secretary.

Kejriwal quit as Delhi chief minister in February, only weeks after his party's spectacular electoral breakthrough in state elections ended Congress's 15-year rule in the capital.

Delhi has since been governed in the interim by federal authorities but fresh elections are expected in February when Kejriwal will try and stage a comeback.

Kejriwal also stood against Modi in the holy city of Varanasi during the May general election but he was soundly beaten.