On the face of it parts of Bijwasan village resemble the numerous poverty-stricken, beset with flies, dusty villages of the country. But on Friday afternoon, one part of it came alive to the sound of music and political speeches at an Aam Aadmi Party meeting. As around 500 men and women, squeezed into a tent, listened intently to the sound blaring out of loud speakers bent on convincing them of the “evil” times they lived in and how they could only be “saved” through our “vote”, there were some in the gathering who were busy looking at the response.
“Look at the crowd, so many people and the best part is they have come voluntarily, we did not pay them and neither did we arrange transport for them to come here,” said Gajendra Sharma, a Human Resource officer in an MNC on weekdays and AAP volunteer whenever “duty calls”.
“I work for the ideology, the vision of Bhagat Singh and I do whatever I have to do to help us change the country; sweep the floors if necessary,” he said, performing his latest duty of helping an old woman wear her Aam Aadmi Party’s Gandhi cap. The other women cloistered together on one side of the tent, all wearing their caps, on top of their already covered heads.
Gandhi caps and broomsticks were aplenty in the rally which even had a donation stand. “We run our elections out of the money you donate, the 10 rupees, the 20 rupees or the 500 rupees. We don’t take money from any Tata or Birla like the Congress and the BJP,” came the announcement after the song and dance performance. To catch the attention of the electorate and media alike, the party had organised a show of the “vanishing folk songs of rural Delhi”.
Then it was the turn of AAP’s Bijwasan candidate Colonel Devender Sehrawat to tell the audience when he would speak. “I will be speaking soon, we are waiting for Arvind Kejriwal,” he promised. As party candidate, it was his chance to win over the people. “Please meet Commando Surinder; he was one of those brave men who saved people’s lives when terrorists landed in Mumbai,” he began.
As he spoke, Geeta, who had managed a front seat and who along with her family makes it a point to visit every political rally that comes to town, said: “I listen to the speech properly, I note down what they say, I don’t come here just to be entertained.”
“We listen to all their speeches but I like what the AAP is doing,” she added, pointing to the entrance of the tent. A big crowd of flag-waving men then gave way to a waving Arvind Kejriwal, who arrived, albeit half an hour late but was greeted enthusiastically with shouts of “Bharat mata ki jai.”
He held a broom and obediently posed for photographs before taking to the stage. “Repeat after me, Bharat mata ki jai, inquilab zindabad, vande mataram,” he screamed into the mike, before some old men of the village came onto the stage and tied a turban on him and the colonel. “In this village, tying the pagdi is a way of honouring a person, accepting him. This means, they all want to vote for us,” added Gajendra. There are many local leaders and supporters who have to get a word in before Mr. Kejriwal is finally allowed to speak about the “corruption” in Parliament and what the country needs at the moment.
On the way out, one cannot help but notice the sprawling farmhouses that run alongside the common hut. But did the AAP see their support base swelling and were there any new supporters. “I cannot say if any of them came today, we don’t treat anyone like VIPs, people have to sit wherever they find place, so there is no way of knowing,” said a Gandhi-capped volunteer.