By Sagar Vishnoi:
Being Arvind Kejriwal’s intern (over research on Governance), I love meeting with and talking to the man who tried to change Indian politics, had a fall and is standing up again. I received a mail last Wednesday at 6 PM titled “Movie with AK”. I rushed to the venue, and the movie had already started in the auditorium. When I entered, Sushmita was dancing to “Shakalaka baby”, yes, the movie ‘Nayak’. Although I felt a bit disappointed, as I was expecting some other documentary or movie, it was quite inspiring compared to other Bollywood movies. While I was enjoying the experience with other interns, Arvind arrived 1 hour before the climax. After the movie ended, we went out for dinner where I caught up with the Delhi Ex-CM Arvind Kejriwal who was surrounded by people, talking while having his lachcha paranthas along with matar paneer, for a 15 minute interview about Delhi Dialogue and some other not-so-political things. Here’s the brief conversation that ensued:
Sagar: Have you seen ‘Nayak’ before?
AK: Yes, I have seen it.
Sagar: Don’t you think there is a similarity between the lead character and you? People even say that you’re trying to copy Shivaji Rao.
AK (laughing): Many people come to me and say this, but the lives of fictional characters and real people can be totally different. People link me with it because a struggle, challenging the established politics, and striving for an ideal government, is shown in the movie. What do you think – don’t you want an ideal government? (smiling)
Sagar: What is Delhi Dialogue all about?
AK: We want to make Delhi a world class city. We want Delhi to become a benchmark for the world. Despite being the capital of India, Delhi lacks some very basic facilities. About 50% of Delhi lacks proper water and sewer connections. Public hospitals and govt. schools are in poor condition, the industrial areas have poor infrastructure, there’s lack of safety for women, few good colleges and scarcity of jobs. The Congress was involved in various scams for 15 years, the inefficiency of the MCD, led by BJP, is well known. Now, we have identified key areas, which we must address. We will hold roundtable conferences with experts and citizens to formulate a blueprint and review it. We will organize Jan-sabhas related to the 12 focus areas – Youth, women, traders, education, health, unauthorized colonies, land-housing, sanitation, rural Delhi, social justice, water-electricity and transportation.
Sagar: What is this Youth dialogue offering to the youth?
AK: We are presenting a five point policy for creation of 8 lakh jobs including incubation centers, promotion of higher education, enhancing sports facilities, providing free Wi-Fi infrastructure (for education, communication, technology, governance) and a drug-free Delhi.
Sagar: You are promising too many things. Are they practical? And where is Janlokpal bill in this blue print?
AK: Yes, all promises are practical. We have come out with these policies after extensive deliberations, research and calculations. A dedicated team which includes Adarsh Shastri (strategic department – Apple), Meera Sanyal (Ex-CEO, RBS) and Ashish Khaitan, has been working on it. People have experienced that whatever promises we made last year, we completed them all in 49 days government. So, these are very practical promises for a vision we are creating for Delhi.
Regarding, Janlokpal and Swaraj Bill, these two are on priority for us. We resigned on these two issues, why wouldn’t we include them in the manifesto?
Sagar: Isn’t this your strategy to bring back middle class votes which got diverted after you left the government?
AK: Why only middle class? These 12 focus issues will cover every issue and problem that the citizens are facing as a community, class etc.. Moreover, we are crowdsourcing solutions and feedback through citizen participation. No point of serving only to a particular class.
Sagar: Alright, don’t you feel insulted by the jokes and trolls on you making rounds on social media?
AK: No, rather I liked and even re-tweeted one of the videos called “Dharna dance” made by someone earlier this year. Nowadays, a new joke is going viral where PM Modiji is holding a broom and cleaning, “Jhaadu pe button dabayen” is written below. (grinning)
Sagar: How did you feel when in one of the programmes by some media house, the Delhi Police commissioner recited a viral troll poem on you? Why didn’t you react?
AK: Why should I have reacted? Things could have gotten worse had I done so. I am trying to control my anger through meditation since the last few years.
Sagar: Thanks for the interview, and all the best for Delhi Dialogue.
AK: Thanks. I hope you will also contribute in making Delhi better.