The triumph of AAP, Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday, was the beginning of a new model of politics. In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Kejriwal had said AAP’s victory would also give birth to a new ideology of “work” — a remarkably amorphous position to take in a country riven by social and political faultlines along religion, caste and language.
On Tuesday, the AAP office was a living testimony of that fluidity, which helps it draw in its fold people identifying with varying schools of thoughts, perhaps best reflected in Kejriwal’s speeches beginning and ending with Bharat Mata ki Jai, Inquilab Zindabad and Vande Mataram. And a message for Delhi: “Gazab kar diya aap logon ne.”
The milling crowd, which swelled by the minute, comprised “kattar” loyalists of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, individuals “mortified” by the rise of the BJP and staunch opposers of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Panchali Gupta, a former ad executive, was among the first supporters to reach the AAP office Tuesday. “I was drawn to AAP only six-seven months ago, aghast with the kind of agenda being pushed by BJP. So far, I had been contributing part time; now I plan to devote more time,” she said.
Gupta, a resident of Gurgaon, said her part-time contribution revolved around raising funds for the party: “We had a set of drawing room meetings. I managed to raise around Rs 6-7 lakh. Many people who attended our meetings went on to hold their own meetings.”
The flexibility in the party’s ideological positioning ensures that Gupta, with her pronounced left of centre leanings, relates to the party as much as Umeshwar, a self-confessed “kattar bhakt of Atal Bihari Vajpayee”, does.
Umeshwar, hailing from Bihar’s Saran district, said: “I do not relate with the current brand of politics practised by the BJP. Bihar today has a vacuum and Kejriwal can fill that. He just needs to devote a month in the state.”
Amid the celebrations, marked by drum beats and the campaign song ‘Lage Raho Kejriwal’ playing on an endless loop, a handwritten poster stood out bearing the message: “No CAA, NRC AND NPR. NO EVM AND VVPAT, ONLY PAPER BALLOTS”. The face behind the message, Vijay Singh Varun, said he was not a card-holding member of any party.
The retired government employee said: “The CAA-NRC project is not needed at all. For that, we have Census. It will be a complete waste of money, which should be used for developmental purposes. I quite like the stand that Kejriwal took.”
Kejriwal has maintained that CAA and NRC would impact both Hindus and Muslims and that the country, going through an economic crisis, does not really need any such initiative.
Conversations also provided a glimpse into the factors behind the complete absence of a split in Muslim votes over CAA, and AAP staying away from the protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia University. “Toh kya ho gaya? The Muslims recognised who was best placed to defeat the BJP,” said Mohammad Mustaqam, a teacher from Kondli.
In the sea of disparate ideas also shone bright the faint outlines of a bushy moustache and round-rimmed glasses, that sauntered into the office an hour after Kejriwal arrived.
One-year-old Avyaan Tomar stood out in the milling crowd, sometimes in a playful mood on his father’s lap, or pushing around blue and white balloons. “His sister Fairy, now aged nine, had played the part after the 2015 win. As a family, we have been associated with the AAP from the very beginning,” said Rahul Tomar, his father, who runs a business.
In the evening, as party supporters celebrated on streets by waving the Tricolour as well as the AAP’s flag, the newly elected MLAs and senior party leaders held a meeting to assess its win and discuss its strategy for the coming days.
“The party will meet again tomorrow. The second half of today was spent looking at the results and analysing them,” said AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
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