I am gonna miss her! That was my first thought when I heard of the former Delhi CM’s demise. I am as politically naïve as any woman born into a middle-class Delhi can be (yes, you got me). I feel I don’t know much about political figures, any more than probably Hans Raj Hans does. But I lost my political virginity to Sheila Dikshit and it deserves to be shared.
I think it was May of 2012. My cousins invited me on a bus trip to Amritsar and I was immediately on board. We started our journey from Gautam Nagar old Gurudwara at night with a busload of Sardar families from the Yusuf Sarai area. For this all-expense trip, we had to pay a hundred rupees per head. We were the only non-Sikh persons on the bus. But since my cousins practically grew up in the neighborhood of that Gurudwara, there was that familiarity. We reached Amritsar in the morning and were free to hang around, but report back by 11. Alright, we said, still that naïve.
After stuffing ourselves at the langar (a term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara) and kadha parshad (sweet dish given as offering in a Gurudwara) and rooh afzah (rose flavored drink), we were on the bus again. We were brought to Lawrence road where a large guest house was being inaugurated. We were seated in the open area- all done up in crispiness of newly painted walls and furnishings. In some time appeared the chief guest- Sheila Dikshit Ji, followed up by the man behind all this, Arvinder Singh Lovely.
We heard her speech, my first political (yet not so political) speech, where a politician was talking about bridging divides, regretting, yet not apologizing for historical misadventures and appeasing a majority here- and minority-there vote bank. Oh, what a trick it was, and we were just spellbound by all this. We would shout fervently ‘Waheguru Ji di Fateh’ every time the local leaders said the first part to the salutation. We clapped to political rhetoric, partook the ‘political feast’ on already full stomachs because we didn’t have an option.
I had heard and read about paid audiences, and here I was. Just like them. I was cheated into becoming one myself. Busloads of people- unaware of this program had been brought from many other parts also, with the motivation of visiting Gurudwara Amritsar Sahib. But who really cared as long as there were food and freedom to plead ignorance and naivety. That was my first such experience, and I cherish it. I am grateful to Sheila Dikshit Ji for this experience. (We did return via famed Sirhind and via Majnu Ka Tila, visiting all the Gurudwaras, some of us, collecting stories, or a version of stories).
This was the time I was learning about bifurcation in the development boards of Delhi and the central administration and everything that it implied. She will be remembered for the Delhi we have now, as much as she will be for the CWG 2010 scandal. She will be remembered for the all-time high corruption in the administration, as well as cleaning up roads of the blueline buses. I missed her political activity in recent polls. I felt her campaigning was half-hearted and the people didn’t respond.
Politicians, in their good times and hard times, educate us so much.