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Arvind Kejriwal is readying for the Delhi Assembly elections. The man who was briefly chief minister of Delhi concedes that he erred in quitting government midway but tells Sonia Sarkar that if voters give his Aam Aadmi Party a majority it won’t make the same mistake again

Arvind Kejriwal is out on the streets of Delhi again. The man who would be chief minister of Delhi – and who was its seemingly reluctant chief minister for 49 days – is collecting money for elections to the Delhi Assembly.

“An honest party can only run with honest money,” he says as he donates Rs 10,000 from his own coffers to his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at a public function on Friday. “I am here to create Swachh Rajneeti (clean politics),” he adds, responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign.

Kejriwal and his team are playing the second innings of a game that they had left midway. In 2013, AAP won 28 seats and formed the government in Delhi with the support of the Congress, which had eight seats. But he stepped down in February 2014, stating that he couldn’t continue because he didn’t have the numbers to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, an anti-corruption law that he had been spearheading.

Many former supporters of AAP believe that Kejriwal sparked hope in them, and then let them down when he resigned. The short stint, in any case, did not inspire confidence. He and his aides brought the city to a standstill with nightlong dharnas. Once the darling of the media, he earned considerable bad press when his law minister raided the houses of African women at midnight, seeking to unearth a suspected drug and prostitution racket.

Will the voter trust him again?

“There is no trust deficit. But, yes, people are asking, why did I leave the government?” Kejriwal says. “But we tell them that you didn’t give us a majority. If you give us a majority this time, we will never leave.”

AAP’s campaign has begun in right earnest. Since November, the party has received around Rs 4 crore (which, however, is just a fraction of the Rs 25 crore it says it needs for funding the polls). AAP has also released the names of the candidates for Delhi’s 70 constituencies, though the election dates are still to be announced.

“I think we will get around 50 seats,” AAP’s national convener predicts. “It is important to have a strong leadership in Delhi, which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t have,” he adds.

Kejriwal, 46, blames the Congress for not allowing the previous government to function. The Congress and the BJP together did not let any bills be passed in the Delhi Assembly, he alleges.

His only mistake, he holds, was to leave the government midway. ” Bas, wahi ek galti ki thi (that was the only mistake),” he says.

Kejriwal has been mocked as much he has been idolised ever since he camped at Jantar Mantar three years ago as part of a widespread anti-corruption campaign. When we meet on Friday evening, he is wearing a brown jacket and a pair of grey trousers. The politician who has often been derided as Mufflerman wears two scarves to cover his neck and head. He still has a cough – the subject of many an Internet barb. How does he react to all these social media jokes?

“When there are nice jokes, one laughs at them,” he replies.

We are travelling in a grey Innova along with other party members – Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Ashwathi Muralidharan – from his flat in Ghaziabad to the Constitution Club, where the function for donations is being held. Kejriwal sits in the front passenger seat, and I sit behind him. For the 30 minutes that the journey takes, he answers all questions but never once turns back his head or neck. He looks ahead and replies, pausing only once in a while to smile at a few passers-by who wave out to him.

Kejriwal, who floated AAP after running a nationwide campaign called India Against Corruption in 2011 to bring in legislation against corruption, is now strangely reticent about the Jan Lokpal Bill. He doesn’t mention the concept of Poorna Swaraj (self-governance) either, which was one of his main planks during the last elections.

“All this is on our agenda. But there are other important issues such as educational loans for the youth, CCTV camera in buses for security and creating citizen local area development funds,” he stresses.

But corruption, he points out, is very much on the agenda. “We will stop the culture of taking bribes in Delhi at every level,” he says.

But how relevant is the issue of corruption now when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development plank holds sway?

“It is not corruption versus development. The fight is on the basis of my 49 days of governance that the people saw and the six months of BJP rule that the people have been seeing now,” he says. “Even staunch BJP supporters are now disappointed because they see there is no real work happening on the ground. What is happening is just bayaanbaazi (making tall promises).”

Ironically, the BJP seems to have taken up many of the issues that AAP had promised to deal with – the BJP has launched a mobile app in association with the Delhi police for women’s safety; it seeks to regularise 895 illegal colonies in Delhi; and its government in Haryana has issued a notice to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra about his business deals. It was Kejriwal who had raised these issues.

“They are copying us. But they are doing it only for show. Their intent is not honest,” he says.

Kejriwal, who was once described as a front for the BJP in its fight against the Congress, has been a staunch critic of the BJP and Narendra Modi for a while now. When few were willing to take on Modi, he fought (and lost) against the BJP strongman in Varanasi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

But Parliament doesn’t interest him any more – he is eyeing the Delhi secretariat. There are murmurs of discontent in the party, with some members alleging that he gave tickets to those people who could bring money for the party. Five party legislators have also been denied tickets. And he has been accused of doing away with the previous process of screening applications and interviewing candidates before giving away tickets.

Kejriwal denies the charges. “We have followed the same process of selection of candidates. We have removed some legislators because they were not functioning properly or were not accessible to their constituents,” he says. “All those given tickets are good people,” he reasons.

The new Kejriwal seems more practical. Once against corporate funding, he has no qualms today about accepting “small” donations from companies. He says he is willing to take Rs 1 lakh as donation from any company because “nobody can buy the party with Rs 1 lakh”.

These flip-flops are being closely watched. The man who once said he’d never play caste politics referred to himself as a baniya (a trader caste) while addressing a gathering of traders in Delhi last week. “But I never said give me votes because I am a baniya,” he elaborates.

Within his loosely structured party, Kejriwal has his share of detractors too. One party member believes that he follows the “Modi style of dictatorship”. Senior AAP members including former minister Shanti Bhushan and academic Yogendra Yadav, too, have criticised him for taking decisions unilaterally. Yadav, in a letter written to his colleagues last year, had said that Kejriwal behaved like a “party supremo” and not a leader.

“It shows that people in our party have every right to express their dissent,” Kejriwal replies when reminded about the criticism within.

But the party is not riding the wave that it did a year ago. Prominent members such as Shazia Ilmi and Captain G.R. Gopinath have left the party, mostly because they were unhappy with its “undemocratic” functioning. Is it true, I ask him, that Kumar Vishwas, who fought from Amethi, and academic Anand Kumar, who were both a part of the party’s national executive, have been sidelined?

“No one has been sidelined. It is wrong to believe that only members of some committee are important for the party,” he says.

This is a new side of Kejriwal – the mild-mannered son of an engineer, who schooled in small towns such as Hissar, Ghaziabad and Sonepat. There was not a spark of activism in him even when he studied mechanical engineering at IIT, Kharagpur, his friends had told the media earlier.

The change came after he cleared the civil services examination, and joined the Indian Revenue Services. He worked as a joint commissioner of income tax in Delhi and later started the Public Cause Research Foundation where he spoke out against corruption. He was one of the crusaders of the right to information campaign and went on to win the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award for his work on the issue.

Kejriwal, who resigned from the services, has no time today for his passions – playing chess and reading. Of course, it’s another matter that he is playing a game of chess on a very large field. Checkmate, anyone?

(http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150104/jsp/7days/story_6571.jsp )

Tete a TeteTete a Tete

Yogendra Yadav is gearing up for the Haryana Assembly elections. As he criss-crosses the state, the AAP leader tells Sonia Sarkar that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral campaign was brilliant and that he wants to learn from it

Some say the bubble’s burst, but Yogendra Yadav will have none of that. He has hit the road and is travelling across Haryana to talk to workers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which emerged with a bang last year and now appears to have dwindled into a whimper. Yadav, the soft-spoken face of the party, is gearing up for the polls in Haryana, slated to be held later this year.

Clearly, AAP — Arvind Kejriwal’s political alternative — is putting its house in order. “We have to focus on our sangathan (organisation), sampark (connect with people) and sambad (communication) before the Assembly elections,” Yadav says, talking about the party’s new programme, Mission Vistaar. “We are discussing the lessons that we have learnt from the Lok Sabha elections.”

AAP’s rise and fall took place almost at the same velocity. It rose to its peak by winning 28 of the 70 seats in the Delhi elections in 2013, and almost turned to dust a few months later, winning only four of the 400 seats it contested in the Lok Sabha elections held this summer.

Among those who lost — a grand list that also includes party leader Arvind Kejriwal — was Yadav, whose 80,000 votes from Gurgaon put him in the fourth place.

“In the course of campaign, I knew I was No. 3. I didn’t know I would come down to No. 4. That was a disappointment,” he says.

Yadav, occasionally wearing the party’s trademark boat-shaped cap and otherwise fiddling with it, is on his way from Panipat to Ambala, where he has a meeting with party leaders. Our conversation continues as he stops at a roadside dhaba for a cup of tea, which he has with the paranthas and aloo sabzi that his sister has packed for him.

He plans to travel to all 21 districts of Haryana to understand how to make a fresh start before the state polls. “We are trying to reach the last person in every district,” he says.

The Lok Sabha poll results came as a shock to AAP leaders, who had thought they’d perform a lot better than they did. Party chief Kejriwal, in fact, had claimed that it would win 100 seats. “That was his political judgement. Before the Delhi elections, he’d said we’d get 47 seats, but we got 28,” Yadav says.

“Getting 100 seats or so was an unrealistic hope. I have a technical background. I didn’t say a word on the number of seats because I knew we were going for a single digit win,” the psephologist adds.

But he also believes that if the euphoria that was created after the Delhi victory had continued till the end of the general elections, the party could have ended up with 100 seats. “Dilli chunaao ke baad hamari aadat kharab ho gayi thi (we got spoiled after the Delhi elections). That time, our feet were not on the ground. That sort of quick success brings you to power sooner than you deserve. But the people punished us for quitting Delhi,” he admits, referring to AAP’s decision to exit power after ruling for 49 days. The excuse was the failure to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill — an anti-graft platform that the AAP rode to power on.

The buzz in political circles is that it was Yadav who advised Kejriwal to step down.

“I shared the view that if we could not pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in Delhi we had no moral right to remain in the government. But I wanted this decision to be taken in consultation with the people, which did not happen,” Yadav rues.

The differences of opinion within the AAP are out in the open. People have been walking out of the party ever since the poll debacle. Yadav, too, resigned from the political affairs committee last month. In a letter to his colleagues, he referred to the lack of organisational building, absence of mechanism for consulting volunteers and policy deficit as among the many drawbacks in the party.

“This is not the first time that I have raised these questions. This time the public got to know about my concerns because the letter was leaked. Though it is a cause of embarrassment that it is out in the public, I am not ashamed of what I said,” adds Yadav, whose resignation was not accepted by Kejriwal.

In his letter, he said Kejriwal behaved like a party “supremo” and not a leader. It’s not a subject that he wants to elaborate on, but says, “I write more carefully than I speak, so I would rather that my written words be trusted.”

But Kejriwal, he adds, has an “extraordinary ability” to pick a single relevant fact from a heap of irrelevancies. “He has a superhuman capacity to remain focused. He has the gift of bringing people together.”

Yadav and Kejriwal have known each other from the time Kerjiwal ran a non- government organisation called Parivartan to press for the implementation of the Right to Information Act. Yadav had held public hearings on the then newly-appointed Central Information Commission on behalf of Parivartan.

But it was Anna Hazare’s drive against corruption in 2011 that brought the two together, though Yadav had his doubts about the movement.

“I thought it was a very positive movement but didn’t like it the way they were carrying it forward. I told Kejriwal that if he wanted to do satyagraha, he had to read Gandhi. I thought he would never get back to me because not many people like criticism. But he did, and asked me to be a part of the movement. And I joined them.”

Yadav — with his well-modulated voice and felicity with words — was soon one of the leaders of the party that was formed in late 2012. It helped that he spoke both Hindi and English fluently. “I learnt my Hindi from textbooks and Doordarshan. So my Hindi does not bear any regional influences,” says Yadav, dressed in a blue cotton kurta with white pyjamas.

Originally from Saharanwas, near Rewari in Haryana, Yadav, now 50, grew up in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar, where his father was a lecturer in economics.

Yadav says that his father was seven when he saw his own father, a hostel warden in a Haryana school, being killed in a communal riot in Hissar in 1936. “The rioters wanted the Muslim children in the hostel,” he says. “My grandfather told the rioters he would rather have his head chopped. So they chopped off his head. My father saw it all happening,” Yadav narrates.

It was this incident — and the Hindu-Muslim killings during Partition — that made his secular father name him Salim. AAP workers brought the name up during Yadav’s electoral campaign in Haryana, leading to a barrage of scornful tweets and comments on social media sites, describing it as a gimmick aimed at the Muslim vote.

But though the name is used by some friends and family, most people know him as Yogendra. Yadav explains that he asked his parents to change his name because his Muslim name led to taunts in school when he was a small boy. “So I was rechristened Yogendra,” he says.

Unfortunately, he adds, the communal divide that his father witnessed as a child continues to haunt India. “The new generation of India wants to move forward. They don’t want to be in the shadow of 1984 or 2002 but politics will not allow them to do so. It wants to drag them back,” he says.

His own political leanings were given shape when he was studying in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University by socialist leader Kishan Patnaik, who headed a political body called Samata Sangathan.

“My initiation into public life, in fact my understanding of politics, dates back to that period. But party politics of the visible kind is a new thing in my life,” he says.

Yadav, who taught politics at Punjab University for eight years, joined the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for the Study of Developing Studies in 1993. Under the United Progressive Alliance government, he was a member of the National Advisory Council, from which he resigned, and the University Grants Commission, from which he was removed last year.

A political observer for many years and an able number cruncher, the Phanishwar Nath Renu fan now finds himself knee-deep in politics, leaving him with little time for reading or writing (“that’s a deep regret”), or for his family — wife Madhulika Banerjee, who teaches political science in Delhi University, daughter Sufi, 15, and son, Sahej, 10.

“The first thing I do every morning is check the newspapers to see if there is a stupid story about AAP,” he says.

He also wants to learn some lessons from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral triumph. “It was a brilliant campaign executed to near perfection. If you get two seats in Parliament, you should not lose hope, you should continue to work,” he says, referring to the BJP’s 1984 electoral defeat which left it with just two members of Parliament. “One needs to be consistent for a long time to be able to achieve anything,” he says.

Yadav is doing that, as AAP gets ready to rewrite its own story.

 

The Aam Aadmi Party wants to contest 350 Lok Sabha seats, but where will it get candidates who can win an election? Sonia Sarkar on the dilemma the party faces

If questions were wishes, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would ride the wave of success. With elections around the corner, the newest kid on the political block is looking at candidates for Parliament. But despite the party’s popularity in some quarters, there seems to be a dearth of suitable candidates.

“So far, we have received around 5,000 applications. We have extended the last date for applications because we haven’t got the right candidates yet,” party leader Yogendra Yadav says.

People seeking a nomination have to fill in a form that’s available online. Candidates will be called for an interview where they will be asked several questions: Do you have a past connection with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or Congress? Do you have a team of volunteers of your own? Has your work made any difference to the local community?

No to the first question and yes to the remaining two would be appreciated.

But while would-be candidates are busy submitting their forms, AAP is in a dilemma. Just where is it going to get winnable candidates from? Winning 28 seats and defeating three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit in Delhi gave the party a political boost. What it has not given — a legacy that all major parties have inherited or have developed — is a list of experienced candidates.

Of course, a few well-known people have joined AAP, which now boasts of 8 million members. Among them is airline entrepreneur Captain G.R. Gopinath and former banker Meera Hiranandani Sanyal, who wishes to contest from Mumbai South. In Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, earlier with the Communist Party of India, and journalist Ashutosh are new entrants, as is former Congress leader Alka Lamba. In Gujarat, dancer Mallika Sarabhai is likely to fight the election as an AAP candidate.

But these are all people who have either never fought an election outside campuses, or fought and lost. Sarabhai was defeated by BJP leader L.K. Advani and Sanyal by Congressman Murli Deora in the 2009 general elections. Lamba lost to Madan Lal Khurana in the 2003 Delhi elections.

Earlier this week, AAP came out with a list of names — featuring, among others, BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi — which its candidates will fight against in the coming polls. A party functionary also said it would contest from 350 seats out of 543 parliamentary seats.

“We are looking for popularity in an area and acceptability within the organisation,” Yadav says. “Those who leave the BJP or the Congress just before the elections and join us hoping to get a ticket are not welcome,” stresses AAP’s Sanjay Singh who, along with Yadav, is the co-chair of the party’s search committee for suitable candidates.

The party is also looking for people who have done social work for more than 20 years — and that’s not an easy criterion to meet. Sanyal, for instance, is an important fundraiser, but has just five years of social work to her credit. She, however, stresses that she has vast experience.

  • In line: Mallika Sarabhai, who is likely to be a candidate; and (top) college girls at a membership drive in Patna

“I have worked with women in tribal and forest areas and helped them become entrepreneurs. I have travelled across 15 states to live with and document the challenges and successes of women. Plus, I have worked with the youth too,” she says.

The party hopes to do well in the two northern states — Delhi and Haryana — where it has a presence. But in many states, there are hardly any applicants. For the 48 seats in Maharashtra, it has received 300 applications and for the six seats in Mumbai, 60 applications so far.

“Applications for the Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra are also coming from Delhi,” says Preeti Menon, secretary of the party’s Maharashtra chapter.

In many states it has hardly any presence. In Jharkhand, the party is still to emerge. The scenario is equally bleak in Bengal, where the party has received seven applications so far. But state unit chief Mukul Kesri holds that the party will fight from South 24 Paraganas, South Calcutta, North Calcutta, Howrah and Hooghly (Serampore).

Yadav is not so sure. “Looking at the organisational strength of the party in Bengal, we don’t think that we can contest any seats there,” he says.

In Bihar, the party seems to have been overwhelmed by caste equations. “It is easier to break into a state which has a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress,” Yadav admits.

In the south, AAP is relatively strong in Bangalore, where it has over 1,00,000 members and prominent faces such as Gopinath and V. Balakrishnan, former Infosys board member and currently chairman, MicroGraam.

It has a presence in Kerala too, but not enough candidates. AAP wants to fight the CPI(M) and the Congress in 20 parliamentary seats, but has received 25 nominations so far. “But a lot of social activists who have done good work are joining us,” says Kerala unit convener Manoj Padmanabhan.

AAP has been trying to focus on Gujarat — where it plans to take on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Ashutosh and Sanjay Singh have been conducting rallies in Gujarat but the response has been lukewarm. The party has received 105 nominations for 26 parliamentary seats but none of these is from people with strong political backgrounds.

“It is disappointing because Gujarat is a challenging battlefield for us,” Gujarat unit secretary Sanjeev Srivastava says.

The problem with AAP, it emerges, is AAP itself. The party, which has come up on a platform of clean politics, is in a bind. Many people who seek to join the party, and who may win elections, are not clean. On the other hand thousands of incorruptible people who are with AAP and willing to fight the polls do not have the capacity to win.

The preconditions — no political affiliations, 20 years of social work, etc. — don’t help either. To top it, candidates also have to support their applications with at least 100 signatures from each Assembly constituency that comes under the parliamentary seat they wish to contest from. “The parameters are very difficult to meet,” a senior Mumbai AAP member admits.

Another problem is that the party doesn’t have an established ideology — so it’s attracting people with no political backgrounds. “People wear a muffler and a Gandhi cap and come to us for a ticket — they think that’s the trademark for getting a ticket,” Madhya Pradesh member Colonel (retd) V.K. Choudhury says.

Some observers, however, believe that AAP may end with a slew of suitable candidates just before the April-May polls. “If they win 50 seats, it will signify that they have arrived. But it is highly unlikely to happen, given the lack of organisational strength of the party,” says Manisha Priyam, ICSSR fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum Library, Delhi.

Wait and watch, party leaders retort. They wowed Delhi; they hope they’ll end up surprising the rest of the country.

Additional reporting by Velly Thevar in Mumbai, Varuna Verma in Bangalore and Sharmistha Das in Calcutta


“How can I join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),” the Facebook user asks on her page. The answers come in droves. “Here’s a list of offices in the cities,” someone replies. Another user sends a link to an academic for membership forms. “I have made my first member,” he exults when the academic duly fills it in.

When it comes to volunteers and members, AAP should have no complaints. After winning 28 seats in the just concluded Delhi Assembly elections, Magsaysay winner Arvind Kejriwal’s outfit, started only over a year ago, is raring to go. But where will it go, and how?

“We have to go beyond television interviews. We have to go places,” senior AAP member Yogendra Yadav tells visitors pouring in from all parts of India to congratulate party leaders. “We have to find out if we can spell this magic in the rest of the country.”

The 2014 general elections are round the corner. Voters tired of the existing political parties are pinning their hopes on AAP. But its leaders stress that it’s too early for them to take a decision on how many seats they will contest out of the 543 parliamentary constituencies.

“We don’t intend to form a government (at the Centre) but we are sure that we can win 50 seats or more,” senior advocate and AAP national executive member Prashant Bhushan says.

The party has already started taking baby steps to that effect. Its youth leader Kumar Vishwas may fight against Congress’s Rahul Gandhi from Amethi. “I don’t claim I’ll win. But I want to challenge dynastic politics,” says Vishwas, who teaches Hindi literature in Ghaziabad’s Lala Lajpat Rai College.

The party leaders realise that they have to strike while the mood is in their favour. “We have to be quick. If we don’t respond to the wave now, it might go up in thin air,” Bhushan warns.

Growth is already being mapped. Since it was formed in the aftermath of Anna Hazare’s 2011 anti-corruption movement, the party now has a presence in 309 districts across 22 states, with active units in Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, besides Delhi. New units are being opened in Bangalore and Kochi.

Mumbai’s offices have expanded in recent times with donors giving the party space in Kandivali, Borivali, Mulun, Ghatkopar, Andheri (W) and Santacruz. Mumbai secretary Preeti Menon says 3,000 volunteers are active in Mumbai. “There is a momentum building up across Maharashtra,” Mumbai-based national executive member Mayank Gandhi says, adding that he received around 1,000 text messages from people wanting to join AAP after the Delhi results were out.

The leaders, however, admit that AAP’s magic worked in Delhi because it was the centre of Hazare’s anti-corruption movement. Its name — which means common people — and its symbol, the broom, also touch a chord in the masses.

But what worked in Delhi may not bear fruit at the national level. For one, the party does not have the numbers needed for general elections. “Though we don’t lack leadership qualities, we have a dearth of recognised leaders at the national level,” Yadav says. “The problem is many in the party are reluctant politicians,” a senior AAP leader adds.

Decisions on candidates will be taken in the next few months, but the focus will be on those with a clean image. AAP will also assess the candidate’s strength in a particular constitution and his or her leadership qualities.

“The real challenge is the screening,” says Gandhi. “Recently, a BJP leader came to me and asked what post he would get if he joined us. I told him that if he was joining the party for a post, this was not the place for him.”

AAP members claim that their party is inclusive — and that will continue to be its focus. Of the 12 newly elected Scheduled Caste MLAs in Delhi, nine are from AAP. The three women MLAs in the Delhi Assembly are all from AAP which, however, fielded only six women for the 70-seat Assembly.

“We need more women participation,” agrees party spokesperson Shazia Ilmi, who was fielded from R.K. Puram and lost by a small margin.

But almost all the 28 candidates who won in Delhi were novices, Patparganj MLA Manish Sisodia stresses. “That clearly proves that people vote for the party, and not for an individual.”

The main problem that AAP is now going to face is the lack of an organisational structure. While the list of volunteers is never ending, it doesn’t have the manpower that parties such as the BJP and Congress have.

“We have researched and found that for a Lok Sabha election, there are 15-18 lakh voters in each constituency and an average of 14,000 polling booths. We need three volunteers to man each booth,” a Mumbai volunteer says.

The party also feels that it has to expand in the east. “In Bengal, people were disappointed with the Left and pinned their hopes on chief minister Mamata Banerjee. But they are now disillusioned by her, and are looking for an alternative. That’s our constituency, and we have to tap it,” Yadav says.

The mood in Odisha is upbeat. There is talk of the party joining hands with the Maoist frontal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh. “We want people to see AAP as a grievance redressing party,” AAP Odisha convener Nishikant Mahaptra says.

But to expand, the party needs resources. The offices have mostly all been donated, the furniture and computers have come free and the workers are all volunteers. The Delhi election is believed to have cost the party Rs 20 crore, which came from donations. “But we would need Rs 200 crore to fight the general elections,” Bhushan says.

They may need more. A source close to a former MLA in Maharashtra says that every day one has to spend nothing less than Rs 1.5 lakh when it comes to the Lok Sabha polls. There’s the cost of paying and feeding supporters; besides, in slum areas, women are given sarees and the men liquor as incentives to come out and vote. On election day itself some candidates end up spending over Rs 1 crore, and that’s a conservative estimate, says the source on condition of anonymity. Indeed, Maharashtra BJP leader Gopinath Munde admitted that he spent Rs 8 crore in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, though he backtracked when the Election Commission quizzed him on this.

But even money is not enough to script the success of a political party — it needs political acumen, strong leaders and a mission. AAP’s advantage is that it has emerged at a time when the image of national parties is at an all-time low. “With the decline of the Left, the space for AAP is getting wider as the party talks about real issues,” feels Manisha Priyam, ICSSR fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

Delhi was one step for AAP. It now hopes for a giant leap.