By Saanya Gulati:
Media highlighted the antics of Parliament in many instances last week. On 14th February however, it was the Delhi Legislative Assembly that made headlines for a change, thanks to Arvind Kejriwal threatening to resign if the Jan Lokpal Bill was not passed.Â While I do not wish to disclose my opinion on AAP’s political tactics or the Jan Lokpal Bill here, I do have one contention with this incident – it occurred on Valentines’ Day. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘what relation could the two events possibly have?’
Allow me to elaborate.
I am aware that the incidents’ coinciding was unintended and unforeseen by the party. It is a connection that hardly anyone picked upon, barring a few Facebook users and pages which hinted at the irony of Kejriwal’s declaration of undying ‘love’ for the common man. But this is the meta-narrative of love and politics: a narrative that we have been hearing from Day 1 of Kejriwal’s coming to power. However, my story of ‘how AAP almost ruined my Valentine’s Day’ is the micro-narrative of love and politics in India.
As I started to make preparations for the home-cooked dinner that my valentine and I had decided on, as a celebration of the day, I got a call saying that we may have to take a rain check because AAP had called for all its volunteers to participate in its massive protest in the event that the Jan Lokpal Bill did not pass; an event that seemed more and more likely with just one hour of the Assembly session left.
My instinctive reaction was one of annoyance: doesn’t AAP protest every day? Also, who gives up a warm and cosy date to spend the night protesting on cold and rainy streets of Delhi?Â If you read Buzzfeed’s ‘52 Hilarious #ActivistPickUpLines For Valentine’sÂ Day’ which recently trended on social media, you are probably having a good laugh at its applicability to my situation. If you didn’t, the underlying takeaway is: “it’s easier for activists to date each other because no one else understands when you have to attend a street protest at night.”
Activist or not, there is an inner romantic in all of us, and no one wants their Valentine’s Day plans to be held hostage by street protests. As for my activist hash tag, here is the one that my valentine coined as a tribute to those who spent their nights on the rainy streets in solidarity with AAP: #WetForKejriwal.
So, between refreshing my newsfeed to keep up-to-date with AAP antics and contemplating whether to fetch grocery for my temporarily suspended Valentine’s Day dinner, I remembered that it was a shared a love for politics due to which I met my valentine in the first place. Mine is just a single story, but I think it is reflective of a larger and much needed societal change we are witnessing.
AAP’s volunteer base consists of several young students and professionals who dedicate their time towards a political cause. In a society, where we often label the youth as ‘apathetic’ and ‘ignorant’ when it comes to the progress of our nation; as more cued in with cricket and Bollywood than current affairs, it is inspiring to witness the youth actively taking part in the political system rather than being spectators or armchair critics. The same youth can put the love for their country above their loved ones, and are slowly showing they are ‘down for the struggle and the snuggle.’ (to borrow one of my favourite activist pick up lines!)
Perhaps this story is then beyond one of love and politics —it is a story of hope. While the political climate in Delhi and the fate of AAP is as uncertain as ever, I can remain certain of one thing: cricket and Bollywood aren’t the only events that capture the youth’s attention.