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|

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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!

Arvind’s Defamation Case Explanation

I was asked by a friend to explain what’s going on with this case and the protests. I have written the following as a response based on my understanding and knowledge. Would love to hear back if there is anything wrong in it or any contradictory views/opinions:

1. What exactly happened inside the court is not known. Both sides have their own story as usual. So I will not comment on the exact sequence of events inside the court. 

2. AAP in 2012, right after their formation, did a press conference with evidence of Gadkari’s corruption. At that time, many media houses also came out with evidence for Gadkari’s corruption. A lot of it is now in public domain (http://aamaadmiparty.org/documents-related-to-nitin-gadkari). I am sure if you do a google search you will find even media articles writing about Gadkari’s corruption and the proofs. Ram Jethmalini (BJP politician) has also said the same – http://news.oneindia.in/…/bjp-versus-bjp-ram-jethmalani… …Gadkari was removed (he resigned just to make it nicer) by BJP from party president position.

3. After the above press conference, there was no defamation case launched by Gadkari.

4. In January this year, AAP came up with a list of corrupt politicians and said that these politicians need to be defeated in the upcoming LS elections. This list also included Gadkari. If you watch video of when Arvind was shouting out these names, a lot of the volunteers were actually adding names in this….it was not only corrupt…also included dynastic, communal etc. which AAP believe have to be defeated.

5. At this point Gadkari launched the defamation case. 

6. I do not know exact procedure of defamation case and whether the one accused is expected to show proof of his charges to prove himself innocent? So was AK asked yesterday to show proof of the charges he made? I am not sure about that….but there is definitely enough proof out there and AAP has competent lawyers to deal with that if needed. 

7. Now comes the bail part. First of all this case is not over, the next hearing is on Friday. So it’s not as if AAP/Arvind is/was losing the case. It’s just that till the next hearing you have to either sign a bail bond to ensure the judge that you will be present for all the hearings. According to AAP and its lawyers, this part about signing the bail bond is not a strict law and its upto the discretion of the judge. In 4 previous cases, Arvind has been granted bail without signing this bail bond based on an oral/written undertaking that he will appear in court whenever he is called.

8. Arvind has on principle denied to file bail bonds when he is not guilty. This has been his position for many many years…even before IAC days. (http://www.dnaindia.com/…/report-rti-activist-arvind…)

9. But the judge this time (unlike the previous cases) decided that Arvind will be arrested if he declined to sign bail bond. So Arvind said he is prepared for that. (anna and arvind have done this in the past too).

10. This cannot be pre-planned or drama as others are calling it unless you imply that AAP influenced the judge and wanted Arvind to be arrested. After the arrest, senior leaders and supporters decided to show solidarity outside Tihar jail (same thing happened in 2011 when Anna was arrested…infact at a much much larger scale with 1000s taking the streets outside Tihar). They were sitting outside the jail, police imposed section 144 and then started dragging senior AAP leaders from their site of protest to other jails and detaining them. Reason for detaining? violating section 144….old way used by Delhi police to disperse any form of protests.

All this is then labelled to be political drama by the media and others. BJP just a couple of weeks ago sat on dharna in Varanasi (they could not sustain it for even 4 hours cuz their leaders like Jaitely couldn’t take the heat)….but that was not drama…that was a legitimate form of protest according to our media and Modi supporters.

Its simple….Arvind lives on certain principles and he will continue to do so. People of Delhi took the streets earlier but now they have given up because they believe it does not solve anything. AK and Anna were the ones who ignited this street fighting spirit amongst our youth, which was also used by the youth in the Delhi gang rape protests. At that time it was not drama, it was revolutionary, path-breaking…nation on streets vs corrupt Congress regime. Now its called drama? A 100 people sitting outside Tihar jail with their leader is drama? A leader staying in jail for 2 days for calling a corrupt leader corrupt is drama? While Gadkari gets elected into parliament? Congress was not only corrupt party…BJP have lots of corrupt leaders too and people like Yeddyurapa were taken back into BJP cuz they were “winnable” candidates. People have given mandate for Modi and are expecting miracles….ok…i am fine with that. But please do not forget that he has people like Amit Shah, Gadkari, Yeddyurapa and many others by his side. AK and AAP will continue labeling them as corrupt..in fact yesterday #CorruptGadkari was trending on Twitter. How many defamation cases will he file? I want to see if BJP can now give Gadkari a position in Modi’s cabinet?

Just one line to end it all –> a strong mandate does not mean there is no scope for opposition. Whether people now chose AAP in Delhi is up to them but I and many AAP supporters agree with this form of protest. As Arvind said when forming party – ab parliament mein bhi ladenge aur sadkon par bhi.