Why AAP matters: Ask AGP, TDP, CPM
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Not long ago, he headed to some of the poorest neighbourhoods of Delhi with his NGO Parivartan, got ration cards made and used the RTI Act so effectively that he had many breaking into a sweat. In April 2011, he and his army of volunteers staged the Jantar Mantar sit-in, then surfaced again at the Ramlila Maidan.
And now, barely a year after he announced the formation of a political party, Arvind Kejriwal has stunned the nation, his Aam Aadmi Party trouncing the Congress and stopping the BJP in its tracks to emerge as the principal opposition in the Delhi Assembly.
As a former Indian Revenue Service officer, he understood the establishment in reforming India (economic and governance reform) and was able to tap into deep annoyance created by heightening expectations. His own IIT education, networking across its powerful old boys association and marrying the alienation of those away from power but wanting a say, the NRI with that of the jhuggi-dweller, gave him a solid, deep edge that older political parties may want to learn from.
Kejriwal played the insider-outsider role with great conviction. As his NGO and volunteers got ration cards, identity cards, Aadhar cards made for thousands, giving them a foothold in the `system' they yearned to be part of, he went about trashing the `system' to great advantage.
He did not hesitate to focus on his own projection as the leader people began to trust, taking on leaders far 'bigger' than himself. Anna Hazare's sheen, Ramdev's following and Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav's articulation and persistent presence on TV resulted in Kejriwal establishing that his was a party of the educated with nothing to lose, no record that anyone could hold against him.
Imaginatively using autorickshaws, a symbol of the average Delhiwallah, he endeared himself as the underdog in a bold David versus Goliath move by taking on the formidable Sheila Dikshit. This also ensured that AAP and he were always top-of-the-mind, and never out of news. In fact, when the protests after the Delhi gangrape did not really focus on AAP and were leaderless, the AAP was quick to pick on the the rape and torture of a child a little later.
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