At Lal flats in Bawana’s Pooth Khurd around 4.20 pm on Sunday, locals sporting white caps and holding posters and flags waited for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was to enter the colony in 10 minutes. As a car pulled up just before 4.30, a child stole one look at the man who stepped out and ran to his mother, saying: “Ye Kejriwal hai? Kejriwal aa gaya?” Having realised that it was him, a crowd gathered, raising slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabad.’
With a day left for the August 23 Bawana bypoll — being held after AAP MLA Ved Prakash joined the BJP — the party held meetings with residents of the constituency over the weekend. According to sources, the party had made a conscious decision to use the Delhi CM sparingly during the campaign. The party’s logic, a senior leader said, “was to fight the election on issues, rather than personalities”.
At the colony, the CM listened to complaints of residents. “There are thekas here which sell illegal liquour… Police are also involved. Please stop this,” said a resident. Kalawati, another resident, who was buying water from a tanker, made sure to yell out her grievance so as to reach the CM’s ears: “We don’t get water here. We have to buy water — Rs 5 for filling up a small utensil, and a bigger bucket for Rs 10.”
Before leaving the venue, Kejriwal promised to look into issues of water, electricity and illegal thekas, but said DTC bus connectivity would take time. Following a series of electoral losses — in the Punjab Assembly elections, the MCD polls and the Rajouri Garden bypoll — the party is pinning its hopes on Bawana. The AAP’s campaign in the area had started weeks before the bypoll was announced. Kejriwal had made a series of visits to villages around Bawana, talking about how the party “was the only one that cared about rural Delhi”.