Nearly seven years ago, Arvind Kejriwal spent a few minutes resting on a charpoy outside Kamalesh Devi’s house, before going on to unveil “broom” as the electoral symbol of the newly launched Aam Aadmi Party. “Wo yehi pe baithe the bohot der tak. Ye pura aangan jhaadu se saaf kiye mandir jaane se pehle (He sat here for quite some time. He also swept the entire courtyard before entering the temple),” said Devi.
Kejriwal had launched the party symbol in August 2013 at the Valmiki Sadan on Mandir Marg, a residential housing complex for the New Delhi Municipal Council’s sanitation workers, who largely belong to the Valmiki community — a sub caste of Dalits (Scheduled Caste).
On Monday, as Kejriwal — now a two-time Delhi Chief Minister — embarked on his first roadshow ahead of the Assembly polls from Valmiki Sadan, Devi laid out the charpoy on the courtyard for AAP volunteers looking for a place to sit.
“No party, be it Congress or the BJP, gave this place this much importance before AAP. Kejriwal had come here even before the 2015 Assembly polls,” she said.
And just like in 2015, when Kejriwal was unable to file his nomination on time, he missed the deadline even on Monday.
“I had to file my nomination but the office (returning officer at Jamnagar House) shuts at 3 pm. They (party leaders) wanted me discontinue the rally at 2 pm but I said I cannot leave people midway, especially those who are showering so much love,” said Kejriwal. The AAP chief will now file his nomination at 11 am on Tuesday. The last date for filing nominations is January 22.
On Monday, the CM was accompanied by his entire family. While the CM’s parents left after the visit to the Valmiki temple, his wife Sunita, daughter Harshita and son Pulkit accompanied him along the entire stretch of the over two-hour roadshow.
Apart from the CM’s family, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also travelled on the same open roof car that Kejriwal rode during the roadshow, which was attended by a large number of party volunteers from across the city.
The CM waved and smiled at people but did not address the crowd. Speaking towards the end, he said the “journey of the next five years has begun today”.
“I am overwhelmed by your love and affection. I love you. We have worked very hard over the last five years to improve Delhi. We have worked with integrity. And now we must prepare for the next five years and that journey has begun today. The polls are scheduled to be held in the next 20 days and we will have to work hard, we must go knocking on every door and appeal to people,” said Kejriwal.
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Many MLA aspirants, including Ram Singh Netaji of Badarpur, Rajesh Nama Bansiwala who is contesting from Rohini and Raghav Chadha fighting from Rajinder Nagar, were also present at the rally.
The rally went through Panchkuian Marg, before proceeding to the Inner Circle of CP and then on to Baba Kharak Singh Marg’s Hanuman Mandir, which was visited by Kejriwal as well.
In 2013, Kejriwal had defeated three-term Congress CM Sheila Dikshit from the New Delhi seat by over 25,000 votes. In 2015, he defeated BJP’s Nupur Sharma by over 31,000 votes.