A crowd of around 1 lakh, sitting in their chairs, applauding and enchanting slogans of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. To disappoint you, this wasn’t the scene of an Indian-Pakistan match but the mood at Ramlila Maidan on 14th Feb, 2015. A history had already been made 4 days ago when Arvind Kejriwal scripted a fabulous victory for his Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi assembly elections by winning 67 seats out of 70.
A vote-share of more than 53% and a strike rate of more than 96% seats was one of those unprecedented moments in the history of Indian politics which surprised all political pundits and changed the way how people perceive Indian politics, and this feat was not achieved by old honed players like Congress and BJP, but the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party. The fact that this was the same party that was entirely rejected by the people of Delhi 9 months ago in the Lok Sabha elections enhances the dramatic significance attached to this comeback.
As a fallout of Anna Hazare’s movement in 2011, this party was formed by former IRS officer Arvind Kejriwal in 2013. The party tasted great success very early when it almost humiliated Congress and challenged BJP in 2013 Delhi Assembly elections by winning 28 seats. Kejriwal went on to form a minority government which was immensely popular but resigned after 49 days to expand his party nationally and fight Lok sabha elections. This opportunism was the huge setback for Delhi people who felt betrayed, and rejected them completely so as to teach a lesson. But just when everyone had written the farewell song for the party in Indian politics, the iconic Aam Adami was up again, roaring from Ramlila Maidan that he is here to change the politics.
The success of the party lies in it’s connect with ‘Aam Aadmi’. Arvind Kejriwal has struck a chord with an entire class of the society that identifies itself as The Comman Man and has a deep understanding of the actual issues related to them. His strong anti-corruption stand helped him reach the masses because corruption is one thing which is eating this country like a bug. One of the biggest contributions of Kejriwal is that he has made everyone talk about national issues and their solutions. Earlier we were a nation where people didn’t care about politics and had a ‘chalta hai’ attitude. But Kejriwal re-instilled a sense of nationalism into the minds of the people. He rejected caste politics, he criticized the Khaap panchayats for their Draconian orders, he discouraged Hindu extremists and the fatwas by Muslim clerics. He focused on the issues that concern the people; Sanitation, a corruption free government system, low food prices, Women safety, Affordable electricity and availability of water to each and every household. I remember Kejriwal saying once, “We are first class citizens, victims of a third-class governance”. He rejected big bungalows with plush lawns, red beacons over his car or the Z-plus security. Instead he wished to connect to the masses as their representative and stay in a constant touch with the common people by putting an end to the VIP culture obsessively prevalent in our country. He did not show even a hint of arrogance when he apologized for resigning last time. Perhaps, this is what touched the hearts of Delhi masses and they voted for him in unison.
Another remarkable achievement of AAP is their style of campaigning. They contested and won the elections with empty coffers. The slogan of ‘5 Saal Kejriwal’ transmitted to every single voter in Delhi by the huge volunteer group of AAP and was embraced by people. When rivals were mocking Kejriwal by calling him names or leveling different allegations, Kejriwal stayed away from this negative campaigning by focusing on issues through his Jan Sabhas and Delhi Dialogues. He worked tirelessly for months and this time again the luck favored the brave. Finally on February 10, a new chapter was written in the history when ‘AAP Tsunami’ wiped out the entire city of Delhi. We could remember Neil Armstrong saying these words, “This is not a small step for a man, but a giant leap for mankind.” Maybe this is also a start of a new India, where even the poorest of the poor were elated by the election result for Delhi.
No one knows how Delhi will change in next 5 years with Arvind Kejriwal as the CM but his new brand of politics is definitely changing the discourse of Indian politics and providing an alternative. Till then, let us also take an oath to do our bit as a citizen and make our country a better place to live in.