The ongoing five-day Zee Jaipur Literature Festival had unexpected visitors in the form of members of the much-in-demand Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In sharp contrast to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s call of protest, at the literature festival its volunteers were making their presence felt.
On Monday, some of the members were spotted across all the session venues sporting the now-famous Nehru cap with ‘Main hoon aam admi’ on it and handing out pamphlets.
At the session on Conquering the Chaos: Empowering the future which featured Yashwant Sinha, they occupied the front row and asked the senior BJP leader some tough questions. One of them was: “The AAP guarantees that they show all their political funding online for everyone to see. When will the BJP show its funding online?” said Akash Singh Jadhor, a member of the AAP’s youth group (Chatr Yuva Sangharsh Samiti).
The question prompted Sinha to throw the gauntlet back in their camp saying, “If there is even one rupee to be accounted, we will. But it has to be done by all parties; everyone has to accept this condition. You disclose and we disclose.”
Another question asked was that if Arvind Kejriwal wasn't around, would there be as many changes even in a simple thing like not using laal battis when travelling. "Absolutely nobody has a monopoly over public morality," he answered. "What some of our friends are trying to prove is something that has been done on many occasions. As an IAS officer I used to travel in Delhi on a bike. Forget the idea that that some people alone are setting the standards, this country has always had people like this".
After the session, a number of people stopped them to say, “Good questions”. “These are the questions the aam aadmi wants answered but no one is willing to answer then honestly,” said Jadhor.
They came to JLF with one agenda, to garner more support and help Rajasthan’s AAP garner a large chunk of the seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, much like they did in the Delhi state assembly. On Sunday, party volunteers had a registration drive at the entrance to the Diggi Palace (the festival venue) where in the span of four hours, they managed to sign up some 500 volunteers. “There is enthusiasm and a sense of hope among the people and they are joining us,” said another member Jitendra.
“We are going to get the support of the people at the ground level. The media and everyone else neglected us, the Congress and BJP were in denial…but they realised soon enough that the aam aadmi is everywhere,” he added.
On being asked if people have raised any objection about the fact that they are politicising a literature festival, they were quick to deny it. “We are not promoting the party but the ideology. This cap is the ideology. We belong to you, we are the aam aadmi,” said Jadhor.