Ever since the Aam Aadmi party was formed, its national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, has spoken repeatedly about changing the politics of this country. While many have pooh-poohed this as the talk of just another newly minted politician, the AAP has shown that it is attempting something new and fundamentally different. The AAP has spoken extensvely about Swaraj and decentralization. They have highlighted the need for better governance. They strived for the Lokpal since their pre-political avatar. They dared to expose the powerful and connected. They have strived for transparency by publicizing all donations made to the party and refusing donations from people who wished to remain anonymous. Now, they have embarked on a civil disobedience movement of the kind not seen since independence.
Shortly after its formation, the AAP embarked on a series of exposes. The media took immediate notice because the exposes dared to take on the high and mighty across party lines. Interestingly, sections of the media privately praised the AAP party for its efforts, admitting that they had all this information all along but simply did not have the “guts” to lay it bare before the public — a classic example of the failure of our fourth estate. Unfortunately, despite the documentary evidence garnered from the public domain and from RTI filings, the government ignored the exposes. The media, meanwhile, was summarily threatened by large industrial houses from covering these exposes. The most recent of these exposes involved the Sheila Dikshit government of Delhi, and its hand in the inflated electricity and water bills of the residents of Delhi.
Sections of the media and several talking heads on TV have derided the AAP as a product of “OB Van” politics. They predicted boldly that they would vanish into insignificance once the OB Vans stopped covering them. The ongoing fast by Arvind Kejriwal has completely debunked this theory. This fast is labeled as an attempt to inspire people to overcome their fears and join the civil disobedience movement, one that involves refusing to pay the inflated electricity bills. Instead of creating a media spectacle, Arvind Kejriwal chose to fast in a nondescript slum in Sundar Nagari, far from the media’s sought-after areas. The AAP insisted that crowds not gather at the venue of the fast. Instead, volunteers and well-wishers were encouraged to participate in a well thought out “ground game” of signing up supporters for the civil disobedience movement. The result was that over eight lakh people signed up in a matter of a few days, and this list is growing by the day.
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