Delhi cheers as Kejriwal ‘returns home’

Aditi Nigam New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on February 10, 2015

Mufflerman returns AAP supporters celebrating the party's win in NewDelhi on Tuesday SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

AAP is not just a political party, but a viable alternative in national politics

It is “Ghar wapsi for the Mango Man”, declared a student travelling in Delhi Metro, as the stunning victory of Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP in the Assembly elections became evident.

The comment sums up Kejriwal’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes of Lok Sabha defeat eight months ago.

Drawing flak from supporters as well as detractors after he quit the CM post after ruling Delhi for 49 days, leading to a rout for the AAP in Delhi during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal’s political career had been written off.

The RTI activist and anti-corruption crusader was termed an ‘anarchist’, ‘naxal’ ‘dharna-man’ and ‘bhagora’ (deserter) by his key rivals — the BJP and the Congress.

But the AAP national convener did not just turn the negative campaign to his advantage, but created an alternative political model in the Capital.

As his colleague and senior party leader Yogendra Yadav said, the AAP is not just a political party, it represents a viable alternative in mainstream politics.

On speculations about the AAP’s possible future ventures, especially in the light of messages of support and encouragement from diverse political players — from JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to the Left parties who were backing it in the Delhi polls — Yadav said: “We are not part of any front, we represent a different kind of politics, we are a movement.”

New wave politics

What Yadav was referring to is the AAP’s “anti-establishment” credentials and “new wave politics” which, according to party leaders and volunteers, reflects in transparent funding, volunteer base and the leaders’ direct connect with the masses.

This is the reason why, they assert, accusations like the party “converting black money into white” just did not stick to the AAP and Kejriwal.

The ‘bhagora’ campaign similarly did not cut much ice, as Kejriwal publicly apologised with folded hands, cameras in tow, to the people of Delhi for quitting at a time when they needed him the most, and sought a ‘majority’ this time.

“I was very angry and depressed when he quit. The cops started harassing us again, saying ‘Go, call your runaway Kejriwal to save you’,” said Kamla, a middle-aged resident of Kathputli Colony in west Delhi. The colony is home to street performers, such as magicians, snake charmers and puppeteers, who have been living in perpetual fear of their slums being razed. Kamla said after Kejriwal apologised, her entire colony worked day and night to ensure his success.

“I am sure he will save our homes and livelihood,” she said, hope writ large on her face.

It is a tall order for the AAP this time around, as its ‘bumper victory’ has raised the hopes of not only the poor, but also the educated and the youth, hundreds of whom poured in for victory celebrations at the party’s office at East Patel Nagar.

Time to celebrate

At Jogger’s Park, located across the office, ironically inaugurated by three-time Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the atmosphere was almost like a rock concert. Huge TV screens aired the poll results live, with cheering crowds breaking into a dance each time a seat victory was flashed.

The celebrations reached a crescendo when the defeat of the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi was announced.

“We voted for Kejriwal as we wanted change,” said a group of students from IIT Delhi. When asked why they did not vote for Narendra Modi or Bedi, who also promised change, one of them said: “Modi has become PM and should focus on running the country. He should leave Delhi to Kejriwal, who understands the city’s needs.”

That, perhaps, sums up the reason behind the AAP’s landslide win, especially in the backdrop of Modi riding to power at the Centre after raising the hopes and aspirations of all segments of the society and the BJP bagging all seven LS seats in 2014. Even if the AAP’s 49-day rule was short, the people of Delhi remember the trailer — the water and power bills were lower and corruption at the lower levels had come down.

“After Kejriwal quit, it took me two months and numerous visits to the local office to get my tax papers cleared. In those 49 days, it took me only two days to get my papers cleared, and without having to pay a single pie as bribe,” said a shopkeeper from Vikaspuri.

In his victory, Kejriwal may well have ushered in a turning point in national politics, symbolising a fusion of hopes and aspirations.

Published on February 10, 2015
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