In a stellar show of India’s vibrant democratic spirit, scores of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters gathered on Sunday outside the party’s central-Delhi office to celebrate AAP’s performance in the Delhi. An odd mix of college and school students, housewives, auto drivers and professionals, the crowd danced and cheered in unison: “Abhi yeh to jhaanki hai, poora desh baaki hai (this is just the beginning, there’s still the rest of the country to take over).”
AAP’s spectacular debut, in many ways, is a victory of the aam aadmis who decided to bet on a newcomer with no experience in politics and little clout or money.
One of the foremost champions of AAP from the day it got registered as a political party were the autowallahs. Almost every single auto in Delhi was spotted with AAP poster on its rear side with a broom-wielding Kejriwal. And nearly all auto drivers were unanimous in their choice of jhadoo as the new symbol of change. Naturally, celebrations were in order.
Bhageshwar Yadav (32) from Madhubani, Bihar, had been campaigning for the party since February, talking to his passengers about AAP and putting up the party’s posters in across the city. “I saw no hope in politics till Kejriwal came into the scene. We have given him and the party a chance and will assess their performance over the next five years,” he said. Though Yadav lent all his support to campaign for the party, he is not starry-eyed about AAP: “If they do not perform, we will bring someone else after five years.”
Gaurav, another auto driver from east Delhi constituency, said he voted for the first time and feels his vote was put to good use. “It feels like a collective victory. AAP and its leaders should work hard and leave a mark so that the party comes with greater majority next time.” Gaurav campaigned extensively in his constituency for AAP and said autowallahs had to bear the brunt of an irate state government. “They started challaning us and we were also told to take off the posters.”
The sentiment that AAP’s victory belonged to all its supporters was a common refrain. “It feels like it’s my victory. I voted for the first time and feel like my vote was successful,” said 50-year-old Swaraj Gupta, who had been campaigning for AAP since February. Sporting a Gandhi cap with a broom in her hand, Gupta posed as a human banner for AAP, standing for hours on flyovers and crossroads. “I always found Congress and the BJP hollow in their promises. AAP should not align with any of these party,” she said.
While seasoned politicians from the BJP and the Congress left no opportunity to belittle the new entrant, the message from the aam aadmi is clear: get off your high horse or be voted out.
To view more photos of the celebration, click here