My Dear Arvind

Dear Arvind,

I am one of your NRI supporters and have supported the movement since IAC days. I have no qualms in admitting that my contributions to the party have been minuscule in comparison to the thousands of AAP volunteers who fight on the ground for a better India. But I still want to write to you today because I believe that we are an extended family at AAP and everyone’s opinion counts.

I have stood by you and AAP through thick and thin. Be it fake strings, Somnath Bharti, dharna, resignation, LS Debacle, YY/PB leaving, suicide at rally, attacks on Modi, DDCA, surgical strike, demonetization, Shunglu report and so on. Nothing has dithered my belief in you or AAP. And again, I want to point out that sitting 1000s of miles away, I am doing you no favor. The only reason I support you is because you are the only one who ignited a sense of hope in me. You are the only one who made me believe that a corruption free India is possible. You are the only one who I can trust as a leader for India. If I were to ever return to India, I would like to vote for an honest and clean political party and none of the other parties offer me that option. I do not adhere to BJP’s ideology and I do not want to fallback on INC due to lack of options. Hence, AAP’s presence is important for me and in my opinion, it’s vital for India as well.

So why do I write to you today? It’s not because we have lost and I want to sit in my living room and blame you, Sanjay Singh, Dillip Pandey etc. I think all of you are wonderful people and have the correct intentions and the vision to take the party forward. I am just writing to you because I feel some of you (as leaders) and also some of our volunteers may be losing our connect with the people. The issue is not that we are losing. We all know (or have learnt along the way) that politics is extremely difficult; the powers that be, have done and will continue to do everything to stop the rise of the Aam Aadmi. But the issue seems to be that we are under the impression that people are happy with us and that we are winning comfortably.

I remember in 2014 LS elections, even AAP volunteers knew that we were not winning more than 10 seats. Some of the most optimistic expectations were 20-30. Since then we should only have learnt and matured as a political organization but instead we are losing our connect with the people. We are not able to see or maybe do not want to see that people are not connecting with us as much as 2013/2015. People connected with anti-corruption initially. Then they connected with 5 Saal Kejriwal and Delhi Dialogues and the hope that we offered. But what now? They do not have anything to relate to. Most of our supporters were never anti-Modi. If anything, they were anti-Congress, so our fight against Modi is getting us nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t think we should stop raising questions against Modi. I still feel Demonetization was a disaster. I can barely see achievements of Modi government after 3 years other than creating some buzzwords and getting people all excited. But people are content with Modi because they do not want to go back to the Congress and they see no other alternative. We need to provide them that alternative, both politically and also in terms of governance.

Unfortunately Delhi with its multitude of authorities, is the worst state to showcase governance. But I am impressed with what we have achieved in Delhi in just 2 years. However, are the people even aware of what we have done or are doing? Probably not because every other day we are in the news for the political side of things. The problem is that politics sells and gets way more media coverage than governance. The perception is that you are always fighting, that you are leaving Delhi for campaigning in other states, that you are having lavish thaalis at the expense of the exchequer. Media does not and will not cover the work done in the sectors of education, health and water. And I am sorry Arvind, let’s stop harping about electricity rates as an achievement. Sure we provide a subsidy and it benefits people but it took you a day to pass that decision in the cabinet – we have been in government for 2 years. We have done a lot of others things – people need to be told about that – they are aware of the bills they are having to pay!

And then the battle against EVMs. Do I completely trust EVMs? No. But it’s all about the timing and credibility. Tomorrow you may even do a press conference and present hundreds of documents to prove tampering in EVMs, but other than your core supporters, no one will trust you. They trusted you during IAC days when you labelled 15 ministers as corrupt but they will not trust you anymore unless you can prove yourself in the courts. Yes, if you and others have seen evidence of tampering then that battle needs to be fought. But it needs to be fought in a smart way. If you cannot convince majority of your volunteers, then forget about convincing the neutral voter. Especially after the hit and run image that you face. So you have to fight the EVM battle separately and bring it up either in courts or when we win an election or when the perception is in favor of you.

I do not even know why I am writing all this to you. You are much more politically shrewd than I am but unfortunately the headlines after MCD results are again reading – “AAP leaders blame EVMs for results”. It will not work Arvind. I would love it if it does because I want us to bounce back quick and showcase our governance. But as I said, when you cannot fully convince me, I know your haters well – they will mock you day in and day out. I may still support your fight against EVMs because AAP is the only alternative but my heart will not be fully behind it – not after we have lost.

So what can we do? Again, you know better but I think you need to divide responsibilities between party and government. Kumar Vishwas along with other leaders should lead the party activities across the country. You should occasionally play the political cards, but other than that, focus on Delhi until 2019. And this is an absolute must for all AAP MLAs and ministers. They should not be campaigning in other states – just work, work and work in Delhi! If LG does not allow you to work, work on the areas where even the LG cannot do much. At some point people will understand if LG’s office starts blocking all good initiatives. And most importantly, maintain the connect with people of Delhi. Let them know about what work is being done. Not just Bijli-Paani rates – that was done long back – what’s new? We will have to connect with people on a day to day basis like the 2015 campaign times.

Arvind, I have still not had the privilege to vote for Aam Aadmi Party. I really want to do that one day and for that we must keep up the fight. I read once that you fight back best when you are pushed into a corner – well I do not know if a Delhi CM can ever be “in a corner” but I guess after Punjab and MCD results, it is as close as it can get.

I will be there with you through this journey. If it ends, I will lose all my hope and interest in politics. But I know we have thousands of selfless volunteers who will not let it end so easily. And hey, the Punjab results and MCD results have only increased our numbers from 0. Even during our bad times, we are growing 🙂

Lots of love,

Your soldier from afar,

Vishal Anand