By Harihar Swarup
It was the fag end of the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement, led by Anna Hazare. Raghav Chadha, who was 22 back then, began his practice as a chartered account. He sought an appointment with Arvind Kejriwal, the prime mover of the campaign. And the rest is history.
Like many young professionals who were drawn to the Anna movement, Chadha too, was deeply influenced by it. Fresh from the UK after completing his master’s in finance from the London School of Economics, Chadha was looking to establish as a CA, but he felt he could chip in with a few hours of voluntary work. What began as four hours of work in a week for anti-corruption cause turned into full-time commitment and an entry into politics when the Aam Aadmi Party was formed in November 2012.
Today, as the AAP is recognized as a fast growing political startup and its victory in Punjab has provided it with a perch outside the national capital, it must be noted that Chadha has had a crucial role to play in the historic journey.
He was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed, along with four other nominees of the APP for five seats from Punjab that fell vacant in April. From a political novice representing a fledging AAP before the news cameras, Chadha has risen rapidly to become member of the ‘house of elders’, the Rajya Sabha.
For Chadha, 33, being an achiever is somewhat of a habit. Just before he joined the Anna Andolan, he was one of the youngest to get a license to practice as a CA. After being appointed national spokesman of the AAP at the age of 22, he was appointed its national treasurer at just 26.
Chadha recalls sharing the stage at an event with the former Congress treasurer, Motilal Vora, who was in his nineties, and the contrast between the two was too much for the media to ignore. “We are a young nation, but there is under-representation of youth in politics”, he says.
As a member of the AAP National Executive, he was part of the team that drafted the party’ manifesto for the assembly elections in Delhi in 2013. Chadha was also advisor to Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister. He assisted in cleaning up the capital’s budget by removing unnecessary expenditures. Chadha was in-charge of litigations at a time when Kejriwal fought a defamation case filed by former Union Finance Minister, the late Arun Jaitley.
Chadha fought the Lok Sabha election in 2019 from Delhi South, and lost to BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri. However, he won the assembly elections the following year from Rajendra Nagar, where he grew up. He was appointed vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board and headed the Vidhan Sabha’s committee on communal harmony that grilled Facebook representatives about Delhi riots of 2020.
Chadha described the Punjab assignment as a big leap in his growth as a politician. “Kejriwalji entrusted me with such a big responsibility. I was merely an implementer of ideas on ground and took care of running the campaign. He was the chief strategist,” he says.
There has been some chatter about whether Chadha’s rapid climb has been due to proximity to Kejriwal. “I am a student of Kejriwal school of politics. He is my mentor and ideal. For someone like me who comes from non-political family to be able to get this kind of opportunity could have happened only in the AAP”, says Chadha.
Chadha, an alumnus of Modern School and Delhi University, says that a career in politics was nowhere on the horizon when he was growing up. “Ten years ago, had I told my parents that I wanted to join mainstream party like Congress or BJP, I would have been scolded and perhaps even disinherited”, he says.
Meanwhile, for the most eligible bachelor in the AAP, there is pressure from parents, and boss, Kejriwal to get married. Chadha hinted that wedding bells will soon be ringing, but did not reveal further details. “All I will say is that it will happen soon,” he says. (IPA Service)