Punjab 2017 for AAP: It’s a comma, not a full-stop

The Delhi 2013 elections were perhaps the most exciting elections in the life of most AAP supporters. For many of us, they were the first elections that we had followed in our lives. We celebrated the victory and believed that we had arrived and change was finally here. However, we soon realized that politics is ugly and bringing change was not going to be so easy.

The 2014 debacle followed soon after. I wrote then that despite the loss we had gained a lot. We gained vote share in Delhi, we got a second state in Punjab and even in Varanasi we gathered 2 lakh votes and showed that we had it in us to fight the big battles. But there was definitely gloom all around. I remember how disappointed I was that day – even 3-4 seats (out of 7) in Delhi may have been good enough to change the mood but that 0 was disappointing. The media had already written our obituary. But as Kumar Vishwas tells us later, after a depressing conversation he had with Arvind regarding the 2014 results, Arvind ended it by saying “Sirji, ishwar hai, hum satya ke saath hai, hum ladayi ladenge, hum jeetenge”.

Arvind along with all AAP volunteers fought back and how! The Delhi 2015 result was due to the hard work put in by all the leaders and the volunteers. No one predicted the magnitude of that victory. It was the first big loss for Narendra Modi after 2014 and it showed everyone that AAP was still a force to reckon with. AAP supporters rejoiced for a few days but in a matter of weeks we were hit again by an internal feud.

And now here we are. After the roller-coaster ride of the last 4 years, AAP is once again at a low due to this defeat in Punjab. By all conventional standards, this is a brilliant performance by a debutant. To become the second largest party and push SAD-BJP to 3rd position is no small feat. We fought a valiant battle but were let down by our own high expectations. Since AAP has emerged from a movement and most of it’s leaders have been activists, we do not look at politics in the traditional sense. We do not fight “the first election to lose, the second to defeat and the third to win”. We fight to win and win big. Delhi 2013 and 2015 have set the bar so high that it just became impossible to live up to the expectations in Punjab.

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There is a lot to introspect when it comes to Punjab. It starts from the way YY/PB were kicked out to how the Punjab state leadership was dealt with. Questions will be asked on whether Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak knew what they were doing and were giving the right picture to Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind himself has to introspect on how much anti-Modi is acceptable. Modi is no saint and deserves to be opposed but people get tired of the same language day in day out. People will vote for change but change is not limited to bringing down Modi. The result of UP shows that Modi is too tall a leader to be challenged in this manner. The worst part about this loss in Punjab is that we do not have a full state to showcase our work.

Having said that, all is not lost. We have a government in a state with 67/70 seats. We will be leaders of opposition in Punjab with 24% vote share. We will have 6+% vote share in Goa. We have Lok Sabha MPs and will have Rajya Sabha MPs in 2018. MCD elections are coming up and despite Punjab, we should still be able to do well. Gujarat and other states in 2018 are awaiting us if we chose to fight them and provide a vision for change and development. People still look up to us as the principle opposition to the BJP and Modi; Congress is nowhere close to revival. We are still performing relatively well in Delhi despite all odds.

And dear Arvind, I still trust you. I know it’s not easy to be Arvind Kejriwal in today’s India. You get a lot of hate. But I assure you that you have supporters like me who love you to death. Some people may call it blind faith but to me politics needs you to pick a side. You can’t sit on the outside and praise and criticize every leader/party. Sure, one should have the spirit to correct one’s own leader but when you have an elected leader, you have to stand by him in the fight. And Arvind, I am with you! संघर्ष जारी रहेगा|

Sirf aur Sirf AAP ki Dilli :)

Wave. Tsunami. Juggernaut. These are the kind of words that political pundits and journalists have been associating with the duo of Modi and Amit Shah for the last many months. Today, with 54% vote share and 95% seats, a certain Arvind Kejriwal has put a halt to this wave, tsunami or juggernaut. As I write this piece, the analysis of this election is going on and Rajdeep Sardesai is still hellbent on proving that there is a class divide in Delhi. Rahul Kanwal will keep reminding his viewers of the ‘Dharna’ politics. Chetan Bhagat, after cheering for Modi for so many months, is now saying that this is a vote against Modi. All of this will keep going on for a few days but the fact of the matter is that 67/70 has been summed up best by Kiran Bedi – “Full Marks”.

ReturnOfMufflerMan

I started following politics around 4 years ago with the Anna movement. When the Aam Aadmi Party was officially launched on November 26, 2012, I had no doubt about where my political preference lay. But briefly in 2013, after a speech by Narendra Modi at SRCC, I was one of those who believed in “Arvind for CM, Modi for PM”, but I soon realized that beyond the brilliant speeches was the same old BJP and it would be difficult for Modi to deliver on any of his promises with the team he has. The choice was between “Congress Mukt Bharat” and “Corruption Mukt Bharat”. I preferred the latter.

It has been a long journey for all AAP supporters, donors and especially the ground volunteers. In the 2013 elections, an underestimation in the opinion polls and some fake stings stopped us from becoming the single largest party and winning Delhi. On that day there was a lot of joy and all the AAP loyalists could go and tell their friends, “Told you so.” In the 2014 elections, there was disappointment all around in the AAP camp but it gave us a second state and also consolidated our vote share in Delhi. And now 2015 goes beyond all the expectations. There is relief. There is fear. There is happiness. And then there are those tears of joy.

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Aam Aadmi Party is like a startup. Perhaps one of the most difficult startups possible as Indian politics is not an easy place to grow in. Yet this startup has completely shaken up Indian politics in the last 2 years and the only reason for this success is the AAP volunteer. They have left their jobs. They have left their dreams of IAS/IFS. They have made many sacrifices and put in hours and hours on the ground to campaign. A positive campaign backed by the Delhi Dialogues and a strong 70 point manifesto is the reason why the people of Delhi have shown this faith in us.

Now it is time to deliver. After watching a Ravish Kumar program a few days back I realized that the problems in Delhi are immense and to make Delhi the world-class city that all parties have promised, all MLAs, all MPs, the MCD, the central government and the people of Delhi will have to work together. Delivering on the promises is going to be tough but possible. And once we start delivering, Western UP, Punjab, Mumbai and other places will await us with open arms. The political revolution has reached its second stage with AAP 2.0.

Wanted to write an emotional piece on this victory but ended up just blabbering. To end this blog, I would just like to thank Arvind Kejriwal for leading us like a champion. I would like to thank Kumar Vishwas for always being by Arvind’s side and motivating us with some brilliant speeches and poems. I would like to thank Ashish Khetan, Adarsh Shastri, Meera Sanyal and their team for the work they put into Delhi Dialogues. I would like to thank Ashutosh for heading the Delhi AAP unit and doing an excellent job. I would like to thank Raghav Chadda, Atishi and all other AAP spokesperson for facing the media which has often been exceedingly critical of this new style of politics. I would like to thank Vishal Dadlani for 5 Saal Kejriwal. I would like to thank Gul Panag and Raghu Ram for standing by our cause despite the Lok Sabha results. I would like to thank Ankit Lal and the whole social media team of AAP for always being on top of the game and giving us our beloved #MufflerMan!

And most of all I would like to thank all the ground volunteers. Without you this win would not have been possible. And this image of the volunteers cleaning up after the celebrations just melts your heart away.

Cleaning after winning

And I almost forgot to thank the people of Delhi. Janta jabh deti hai, chappar phad kar deti hai 🙂

Chalo ab 5 Saal Kejriwal! Jai Hind!

A short reply for each allegation against AAP

Finally the LG seems to have taken the decision and the Delhi assembly will be dissolved soon. So we will have re-elections in the coming weeks or months based on what the Election Commission decides. I was just thinking about the arguments that we will see in the coming days and decided to come up with a list of what BJP/Congress/Media will have to say against AAP and AK. Let me know if there is anything else that I can add to the list:

1. AK ran away – Yes he resigned because he was not able to pass a bill. Asked for re-elections as soon as possible. Later he apologized to the people of Delhi and said he should have held Mohalla Sabhas for making such a decision.

2. AAP could not fulfill its promises – AAP is the only party who implemented around 50% of its manifesto in just 49 days. Water, electricity, CAG audit, SIT for 1984, abandoning VIP culture, complete mapping of 900 government schools and their requirements, and tried to introduce their biggest promises of Janlokpal and Swaraj bill in the assembly. Lots of other things were also done in the 49 days and a complete list can be found on the Aam Aadmi Party website. As far as fulfilling promises is concerned, when are we getting 15-20 lakhs in our accounts Mr. PM? 100 days? 150? Chalo we will give you some more time. No Problems.

3. AAP is breaking apart – Yes, Anna and KB are not with us . Yes Binny and Shazia left. But so what? We fielded 400+ CLEAN candidates and 1.2crore+ people voted for us in Lok Sabha. And the biggest proof of unity within AAP is that BJP was not able to break any of our MLAs despite offering crores of rupees. I salute such MLAs!

4. AK sat on a dharna – yeah he did. For women safety. Asking for full statehood for Delhi and control over Delhi Police. Modi sat on a dharna in an AC tent a few years back. Jaitley and co tried sitting on a dharna in Varanasi but failed in 2-3 hours.  And a lot of other CMs have protested through a dharna. Big deal?

5. AAP is B team of Congress – Yesterday a Congress representative was saying AAP is B team of BJP. This has been going on ever since the IAC days. In fact at that time if anything we were B team of BJP because we built the public anger against UPA government. Modi should someday thank Anna and the team of IAC for their contribution in BJP’s victory.

6. Foreign funding – I do not need to say much. Just check the links below:

7. AAP has no vision. Only want to spread anarchy – Swaraj. Jan-Lokpal. Honest governance. Transparent funding. Accountability towards the public. Clean candidates. That’s our vision. For more details visit AAP website, search on YT for AK interviews. Read his book on Swaraj. Visit the FB page or Twitter handle of Jagdeep, Jarnail, Somnath, or any other AAP MLA and you will see a sneak peak of AAP’s model of governance.

8. Arvind apologized to Gadkari – False rumors spread my some people on Social Media. He never apologized and will never do so. Here is the explanation behind the meeting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw7Srdb9jE8

9. AAP is going the Congress way and getting into minority appeasement – AAP aims to unite all people and the biggest example of this is the following:

At a Muslim function, some guy asked:
“We are 18 crore, what are you going to do for us ? ”
Arvind replied… “We are not 18 crore.. we are 121 crore.”

Here is the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIhjlwhcJHw

Want to read more about why some people hate Kejriwal and the bias of the media? Read this reply –> http://www.quora.com/Why-do-so-many-Indians-hate-the-AAP-and-Arvind-Kejriwal/answer/Rohit-Nigam-3?srid=iNdH&share=1

Anything else? Any suggestions? I will keep improving and adding to the list.

Hum Hain Desi: An evening with a true patriot!

Waise toh aaj Hindi mein likhne ka mann kar raha hai, lekin Devanagiri keyboard dhang se use karna aata nahin aur aise likhne mein maza nahin. Toh abhi ke liye angrezi mein hi switch maar leta hun. Maaf karna Vishwas Sir. Magar aapko humara waada raha ki jald hi hum bhi Hindi mein likha karenge!

I have not grown up in India. Only lived there for 3 years. I had never really heard about Dr. Kumar Vishwas until he took the stage for IAC and then joined hands with Arvind. Ever since then, he has always left an impression with his poems, jokes, speeches and the beauty with which he express himself in Hindi.

So when I found out that Kumar Vishwas was coming to Houston, I had no doubts that I had to attend this one. Within minutes I shot off a message to my friends to ask whether they wanted to come. I was going for sure but to have a few friends tag along would have been better. Thankfully a few were interested and those who missed out will never realize what they missed out on. This was not about whether you like Kumar Vishwas, support AAP or enjoy poetry. It was simply about whether you can take some time out of your “busy” lives, to proudly say ki hum hain desi! Anyways, to each his own.

The week went by. Internship. Online class. A visa application. The usual. But throughout the week there was a tinge of excitement for the upcoming weekend. So much so that 3 days before the evening I had decided that I was going to wear a Kurta Pajama to this event. Something that I have not done for the last many many years. Somehow, it just felt right to wear an Indian attire on this day.

Let’s move on to the actual day itself – August 2nd, 2014. We reached India House, Houston around 30 minutes before the start time and 1 hour before the event started. Aakhir hum hain desi, event time par start ho jaaye toh maza kahan aata hai?

@vish111 – “Waiting for @DrKumarVishwas Excited 😎 #JantarMantar3Aug #AAP”

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And then he arrived. He snuck into the room while a few other announcements were being made and took a seat in the front row. Someone else spoke for a while before Kumar Vishwas was finally called on stage. He had to wait for another Houston based poet to do his bit. He looked tired but still managed to throw in a ‘jumla’ here and there. He finally took the mic around 8:30pm and took us all on an entertaining and wonderful journey for the next 3hrs! Non-stop!

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What do I even say about the whole experience? In today’s day and age the best way to explain it would be that no one stepped out of the room to take a phone call. No one was texting. The few phones that were out were to record videos. I recorded a few too for fellow AAPians and Kumar Vishwas fans. Will share them soon.

All he did for those three hours was make us smile, grin, laugh and applaud. He cracked jokes, he recited his poems, and most importantly he took us back to India with his Hindi. He captured what all NRIs have in their heart when he said: kya chahte hai NRIs? Bas itna ki humare desh ki sadkein bhi acchi ho jaaye, wahan corruption door ho jaaye aur ek baap apni beti ko raat ke samay ghar se bahar bhejne se dare na. Once India gets rid of corruption and becomes a safe country, every NRI would happily return back.

The best part about Kumar Vishwas is that he is so natural. Of course he repeats some of his poetry and jokes but a lot of it is new and created on the spot. This event was not meant to go on till 11:30pm. In fact from 10pm onwards he kept on saying that this will be the last one but he was in the mood today. He just kept going and going. One after the other. A few of the poems were new and he had not recited them before. One of them he had just written a few hours ago on his phone while coming to Houston. He even pointed out that out of all the events he has had on this tour so far, this has been the longest one. It might sound weird when I say this but how cute does he look when he is about to end and says “us se pehle ek teen minute ka geet aur sun li jiye. mann kar raha hai.” He sounded like a kid who is so excited and this was despite the fact that he had only slept for 2-3 hours the previous night.   Humari kismat acchi thi. Woh aaj mood mein the 😉

The range and comfort with which he goes from an easy to understand poem like Koi Deewana Kehta Hai to a more difficult ghazal is what makes him unique. Maybe there are many poets who write better than him but what’s the point if your audience cannot understand the message? He makes them understand and each line touches your heart. In fact he also joked (it’s in the Hum Chup Reh Nahin Sakte video) that “Log zyaada doob gaye. Matlab log kavita sunne ke bajaye uski picturization mein chale gaye. Aisa na karein, aap yahin rahe.” The event was full of such interactions with the crowd. Such was the atmosphere that you did not want to miss a single line.

A message for AAPians: some of you may have been slightly worried in last few weeks. “Has KV given up on AAP and politics and left Arvind to fight alone?” I was slightly worried too but after watching him today I realized how wrong I was. This man is not an opportunist who has jumped into politics to become an MP and make use of the benefits. He is a true patriot and a true patriot will not leave a battle in between. Especially if that battle is for his Bharat Ma. He mentioned the friendship that he shares with Arvind multiple times, he cracked a few jokes on Congress and BJP and he made it clear that he will keep on fighting. I know how all of us AAPians would love to see him standing with Arvind and campaigning but let us try to understand that it is important for him to return back to his roots. He has not left AAP. He is just returning to his first love which is poetry and the Hindi language. Give him some time. I know my words are not enough to convince a few AAPians but I have no doubts in my mind that he will be the LAST person to leave Arvind.

So how do I end this now? I just want to expand on what I told him when I shook his hand after the event. I said “Thank You Sir”. Thank You Sir for making this evening one of the most memorable ones that I have ever had. Thank You Sir for keeping Hindi alive amongst today’s youth. Thank You Sir for spreading patriotism amongst all Indians. Thank You Sir for fighting on the streets for us. Thank You Sir for your help in shaking up the political establishment in our country. Thank You Sir for everything! If I was just a fan before, I have become an admirer today.

Standing next to a patriot.

Standing next to a true patriot

I have written for one of my favorites today and whenever I do that, I feel that I have not done enough justice to him. I just want to tell you all to go watch him perform some day. I know I will if given a chance again. Actually, I will find the chance. I WILL go again! Hopefully with my family. Hopefully in India. Aakhir hum hain desi aur hum intezaar kar rahe hai us din ka jabh humara desh humme awaaz lagaye.

As my friend said “aise event se pata chalta hai ki aap sach mein kahan rehna chahte ho.” We will be back in India soon and Kumar Vishwas would have a role in that!

Jai Hind!

Update – My feelings the next day:

Phir se uss mahaul mein doob jaane ka jee chahta hai,
Agle mauke ke intezaar mein ‘Alakh’ mein kho jaane ka jee chahta hai

Alakh is his new CD

YouTube Links:

[UPDATE]: I removed the videos due to a request by Team Kumar Vishwas. They are officially uploading some of his videos.

Thank you Shazia Ilmi

I saw Shazia Ilmi for the first time during IAC days. Saw her on the stage with Anna and co. But what struck me was her feisty nature on TV debates. It was good to see. It showed her strength and resolve for the issue she was fighting for. She is a strong lady. No doubts about that.

I was happy that she was around with Arvind when AAP was formed. She along with Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh and few others was the backbone of AAP. It was disappointing to see her lose from RK Puram by a very small margin in the Delhi elections. Then came AAP’s plunge to Lok Sabha elections and we started hearing the rumors. She was not happy with party leadership? But we thought she was an integral part of that very leadership?! Unfortunately, it seemed like Sanjay Singh and few others had taken control. Voices of people like Shazia were not being heard. Kumar Vishwas was unhappy too. The good thing about AAP is that all volunteers and supporters know about these problems and discuss on public platforms. But we were hoping that once the Lok Sabha elections were over, we would have time to fix the internal party democracy issues. Alas, that has not happened. Not yet.

So it has led us to this unfortunate day. Shazia Ilmi has resigned from the party and explained her reasons for doing so. Major point being internal party democracy. If Shazia cannot get herself heard within the party then how can volunteers reach to the leadership? It is a very serious issue which has been plaguing the party for a very long time. Everyone knows but in jumping from one election to the other, the issue has been sidelined. And that is why I thank Shazia Ilmi today. For bringing the issue up and putting it in the forefront. The “leadership” needs to take notice of this and act. And by “leadership” I am referring to that one man who started it all and has a vision for the party.

Yes, it has to be Arvind. I feel for him. He is fighting a very difficult battle and in difficult times. As I write this, it has been 60+ hours of him being in jail. But he is not going to break down. He is made of steel. I do not want him to compromise on his principles. Not at all. But when he does come out of jail, he needs to take a short hiatus from active politics. Go back in time. Revisit Swaraj. Meet Anna. Think about the vision he had for Aam Aadmi Party. Get feedback from supporters. Visit people of Delhi without any intent to campaign. And he must do this alone. Because, cheesy as it may sound, he is the chosen one!

Whether Arvind does this or not, I will stand by him because he is fighting a battle which only he dared to begin. But once again, thank you Shazia ma’am. I am sure it must not have been easy for you to take this decision. But I also know that you will be back one day!