Two months ago, Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia had stood at the same spot at 41, Hanuman Road, New Delhi.
Then, as on Friday, Kejriwal spoke from a first floor window, trusty advisor by his side, and the window pane forming one tight frame for the teeming photographers below.
The stories the pictures tell, however, are not similar.
December 8, 2013 was the day AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, mike in hand, spoke of new beginnings, ecstatic with his party’s 28 seats in the Delhi Assembly.
On Friday, he announced a demise. The end of his first experiment with governance that lasted all of 48 days. But for his supporters, this was no funeral.
They danced for the cameras, knowing that they were part of pictures that would count as history. And in the hope that with the Lok Sabha elections looming, this end was only a beginning for Arvind Kejriwal.
From around 5 in the evening, they had started collecting at the AAP office. Most supporters had stayed glued to their television screens all day, and with it becoming clearer that Kejriwal would put in his papers, they came to stand together.
At the insistence of several supporters, a giant projection screen went up, and a live telecast of the Vidhan Sabha proceedings began. “Do you remember, on December 8 as well, we watched a television screen in the same office courtyard?,” said a man wearing an Aam Aadmi cap.
“This time though, the screen is bigger. Just like our ambition,” said his friend, holding a broom. The crowd was swelling and his voice carried. Close to 20 supporters carrying brooms laughed around him.
By 6 pm, Kejriwal began speaking at the Vidhan Sabha, and the crowd, by this time close to 500 people, cheered him lustily. Every single time the screen showed someone heckling Kejriwal in the assembly, the critic earned the unanimous wrath of the crowd.
“You have no right to say anything to our chief minister. He has done more work in one month than you accomplished in 10 years. Let him work for us,” screamed one volunteer, as if he spoke loud enough for those inside the Vidhan Sabha to hear.
They didn’t, and in another two hours, Kejriwal’s Blue Wagon-R cut through the crowds outside the office. The weather gods had threatened intermittently until then, but they chose that moment for the skies to open up.
The crowd, however, stayed true. His speech was strongly worded, and they hung on to every word. Every now and then, he paused for dramatic effect, and the AAP supporters, now more than a thousand, watched spellbound. They were all unanimous. Quitting was the only way forward.
The loudest cheer of the night went up when Kejriwal spoke of how the “janta” would teach the BJP and the Congress a lesson in the Lok Sabha elections.
All evening, they had chanted, “Pehle Sheila haari hai, ab Modi ki baari hai (First Sheila lost, now it is Modi’s turn)”. Kejriwal himself took Modi on. But the sense at 41, Hanuman Road was clear. Its government in Delhi may have turned from ashes to dust. But perhaps an AAP phoenix was rising from the rubble, with an unchained Arvind Kejriwal at its helm.
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