Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s letter to Haryana CM on Munak Canal issue; compensation given to CRPF jawan

  • Delhi chief minister’s letter to Haryana CM on release of water for Munak canal
  • Delhi government announces Rs one crore compensation for CRPF jawan killed in a landmine blast
  • Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal & Deputy Chief Minister Shri Manish Sisodia attend the cremation of CRPF jawan, Narottam Das at his village in Najafgarh

New Delhi: 26/02/2015

Delhi chief minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the chief minister of Haryana, Mr Manohar Lal Khattar on the issue of Munak carrier lined channel (CLC).

In his letter, Mr Kejriwal has informed that it has been brought to his notice that the Haryana Irrigation Department has substantially reduced the release of raw water, which could lead to major disruptions in production of drinking water in the national capital.

The Delhi chief minister has offered to meet Mr Khattar at Chandigarh along with his team of officers to discuss and resolve the issue.

Delhi government announces Rs one crore compensation for CRPF jawan killed in a landmine blast

Chief minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Mr Manish Sisodia attended the cremation of CRPF jawan, Narottam Das at his village in Najafgarh on Thursday morning.

He had lost his life in a landmine blast at Gaya district of Bihar by suspected Maoists earlier this week.

After meeting the bereaved family members, the chief minister announced a compensation of Rs one crore for the family of martyr Narottam Das.

Mr Kejriwal said Narottam laid down his life while performing his duty and the state government will honour his sacrifice.

The chief minister expressed the hope that the martyr’s wife will be provided a job by the CRPF and if required, the Delhi state government will offer her a job.

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Maurya/

Why AAP Opposes The Land Acquisition Ordinance: Part-3

This is the third and final post in a series on the land acquisition ordinance.

In my two previous posts, I have attempted to explain the nuances that the Ordinance has forgotten completely. In this last and final post, I will expose the many U-Turns of the BJP-led NDA government on the issue of land acquisition. We can only hope that the BJP returns to what it originally thought right for the farmers and citizens of India. Or maybe that was also election rhetoric?

Anyway, here’s an analysis in two short annexures. :

Annexure 1: BJP’s U-Turn on 2011 Sumitra Mahajan Committee Report

  1. Public purpose and acquisition for private companies and PPPs

2011 Bill: The Bill provides that land may be acquired for use by the government for its own use, control; or for the purpose of use by private companies; or for public private partnerships (PPPs) and also private companies for the use of public purpose. It provides that the provisions relating to rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) shall be applicable in case of acquisition for private companies and for PPPs.
The term “public purpose‟ in the Bill includes provision of land for, (a) strategic defence purposes and national security, (b) roads, railways, highways, and ports, built by government and public sector enterprises (c) project affected people, (d) planned development or improvement of villages, and (e) residential purposes for the poor and landless. Public purpose includes other government projects, which benefit the public as well as provision of public goods and services by private companies or PPPs; these require the consent of 80 per cent of project-affected people.

2011 Sumitra Mahajan Report: The Committee recommended that land should not be acquired for use by PPPs and private companies. Public purpose should be limited to state sponsored projects as defined in Clause 3(za)(i) to (vi)(A). The provisions relating to acquisition of land for private companies and PPPs should be deleted (Clause 3(za)(vi)(B) and (vii)].

2014 Ordinance: The government’s amendment would mean that now social Impact assessment, food security assessment & consent of 70% of land owners will not be required before acquiring land for five broad categories that the government has specified (more on these categories in point 2). Thus for all practical purposes, we are back to the draconian 1894 Act which peoples movements had fought to change.

  1. Infrastructure projects – Clause 3 (o) (i – v)

2011 Bill: The Bill defines “infrastructure projects” to include projects related to the generation of electricity, telecommunication services, roads and highways, water supply, and any other project that may be notified by the government.

2011 Sumitra Mahajan Report: The Committee recommended that Clause 3 (o) (v) gives wide discretion to the government to define infrastructure projects should be deleted. The Committee recommended that infrastructure projects should be included in the definition of public purpose.

2014 Ordinance: The government proposes to exempt five categories of Acquisitions from the procedural requirements of the 2013 Act. These five categories are: defence, industrial corridors, rural infrastructure, affordable housing including housing for the poor and any infrastructure including social infrastructure in PPP mode where the land is owned by the government. As YY states in his note, every project is some sort of infrastructure project or housing project.

  1. Role of local self-government institutions

2011 Bill: The Bill provides that the Gram Sabha shall be consulted at time of preparing the SIA and at the time of issuing the preliminary notification for acquisition.

2011 Sumitra Mahajan Report: The Committee recommended that the Bill should be amended to provide for more participation by local self-government institutions. There is a need to provide in greater detail the role of the Gram Sabha. The role should not be limited to merely consultation, but their consent should be obtained in all the matters pertaining to acquisition and R&R.
The local elected authorities should be entrusted with the decision making process regarding issues such as acquisition of land, review of R&R schemes, determination of compensation, and any dispute regarding the compensation awarded. The Committee recommended that the Expert Group evaluating the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) report should also have one or members nominated from the affected Gram Sabha.
The Committee also recommended that a Schedule V should be added to the Bill mapping out the devolution of powers with respect to the Panchayats in rural areas and Municipalities in urban areas.

2014 Ordinance: It simply does away with it.

Annexure 2: Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj’s Comments from Debate on Land Acquisition: August 29th 2013

Given below are a few choice quotes that were used by the Honourable Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh in August 2013 regarding the issue of land acquisition:

Land is not just a commodity. It is just not about economic activity. The issue of land is associated with the emotions and culture of farmers.

I want to say that one should never take hasty decision in the matter of land acquisition.

Will there be forced acquisition even after this bill? From the cursory reading of the bill, it seems that is the case.

For all land acquisitions, the Social impact assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment should be mandatory and should be done before the acquisition is made, not after the acquisition is made.

We wish to eliminate clause 9 that gives the right to government to acquire land under urgency provision. All kind of acquisitions must go through prior SIA and EIA.

We believe that unless farmer gives his consent, arable land must not be acquired. If acquisition happens, we will have huge food security problem.

If a farmer objects against acquisition and if a government takes a decision on it, farmer can not appeal against the decision. This is a draconian provision. The farmer should be able to go to court.

Clause 38 under which a collector can acquire a land with three days of notice should be abolished.

We can only hope that someone gets Shri Rajnath Singh a printout of his speech from August 29th 2013 and remind himself of the stand that he once took for farmers.

Similarly Sushma Swaraj ji had once said in April 2013:

Instead of acquisition, it would be better to lease the land to the developer as the land will remain with the farmer and would provide him with regular annual income. If the land is not utilized for the purpose for which it was leased, it could be returned to the farmer.

Swaraj has supported Ramesh’s contention that there needs to be provision for retrospective application of the Bill, especially when it comes to the rehabilitation and resettlement clauses – an aspect that has worried industry. Swaraj demanded that the Social Impact Assessment Study and the Environmental Impact Assessment Study should involve the local MP, MLA and even the NGOs who work in the area.

Why does the BJP seem to sing one tune when in power and another when not in power?

The Farmers of India are knocking at Delhi’s doorstep asking its political masters that fundamental question. I hope you will too.

Why AAP Opposes The Land Acquisition Ordinance: Part-2

This is the second post in a series of posts on the land acquisition ordinance.

Aam Aadmi Party, along with many people’s movements has opposed the Ordinance to Amend the Land acquisition (RFCTLARR) Act of 2013 on the ground that it exempts most land acquisitions from Consent, Social Audit and Food Security Audit provisions.

Now that a copy of the Ordinance is available, it is clear that the news is worse than we thought. The Govt. has inserted many other amendments as well, all of them against the interests of the farmers. Some of these are:

  1. Earlier the acquisition for private purposes was limited to ‘Private Companies’, which are registered under the Companies Act. Now it has been extended to any ‘Private Entity’ that includes proprietorship, partnership, NGO or any other entity.
  1. In the name of infrastructure, now the government can acquire land for private educational institutions and private hospitals as well, which were specifically excluded by the original Act (Amendment to Section 1 b (i))
  1. As reported earlier, all projects related to defence have been exempted. The crucial thing is that ‘defence’ has been defined now to include “any project vital to national security” and “defence production”. This definition can include all kinds of infrastructural projects and privately owned projects. (Insertion of new Section 10A)
  1. Original Act gave relief to those farmers whose lands were acquired more than 5 years ago but where the process was not completed till now. They were to be given the benefit of compensation under the new Act. Now the Amendment limits this benefit to only those few cases where the delay was not due to any judicial order or pending case.(Amendment to Section 24 (2))
  1. The original stringent provision about punishment for violation of this Act by any government official has been reversed. Earlier the Head of the Department was held responsible if the violation took place with their knowledge and connivance. The Amendment removes this provision and actually provides special immunity to the Govt. officials under Section 197 of CCP. There won’t be any action against a Govt official fro violating this Act without sanction from the Govt. (Amendment to Section 87)
  1. The original provision of returning the land to original owner if not utilized within 5 years has been removed. Now the Govt can retain the land for longer without utilizing it, if the “period specified for the project” is longer. (Amendment to Section 101)
  1. The Govt has given itself the power of “removal of difficulty” for five years, instead of the original two years. (Amendment to Section 113)

Basically every positive feature of the original Act (which was passed with BJP’s active support) has been annulled. All those who respect democracy and who care for the farmers must oppose this Ordinance.

Why AAP Opposes the Land Acquisition Ordinance: Part-I

This is the first post in a three-part series on the Land Acquisition Ordinance.

The Land Acquisition Ordinance has been brought in by the BJP-led Narendra Modi government bypasses all constitutional norms and rules of legislation, throwing Delhi’s farmers, agricultural community and citizens of rural Delhi to the whims of big business. Rural Delhi, like much of India’s agricultural community will bear the brunt of the government’s rush to accommodate exclusive development.

Delhi has 35 lakh rural citizens who have been consistently been neglected by the ruling powers. Their situation is at par with the aborigines in Australia and Native Americans in the United States, and has been one of the most systematically disadvantaged citizens of the country. Their land rights have been taken away by dystopian sections of the Delhi Land Reform Act and now the amended Land Ordinance. Huge chunks of North West, South West and South Delhi are affected by this land ordinance, and the Aam Aadmi Party firmly stands against this anti-people anti-constitutional ordinance and draconian outdated Delhi Act. We vow to repeal and rescind outdated sections of the Delhi Land Reform Act like Section 33, Section 81 when we come to power in Delhi. And we continue to give our unconditional support to Delhi’s farmers who are troubled by this anti-farmer Land Ordinance.

First of all, the Ordinance violates the basic spirit of why ordinance is needed. Ordinance route has been provided for in order to meet an emergency situation in-between two sessions of parliament. What was the emergency in this case? The next session is in the third week of February. Why could the government not wait till then?

Second, the amendment will nullify the hard earned gains of movements against forced acquisition and displacement. After a long struggle and negotiation, these movements had forced the government to agree to some basics:

  • that the land acquisition must not take place without consent
  • that land acquisition must not be permitted in multi-crop land where it goes against food security
  • that acquisition must be preceded by an assessment of its impact not just on land owners but on the society as a whole

The government’s amendment would mean that now social Impact assessment, food security assessment & consent of 70% of land owners will not be required before acquiring land for five broad categories that the government has specified (more on these categories in point 2). Thus for all practical purposes, we are back to the draconian 1894 Act which peoples movements had fought to change.

Third, the government proposes to exempt five categories of Acquisitions from the procedural requirements of the 2013 Act. These five categories are: defence, industrial corridors, rural infrastructure, affordable housing including housing for the poor and any infrastructure including social infrastructure in PPP mode where the land is owned by the government. Just look at these four categories and imagine what greedy builders, politicians and bureaucrats can do with these five categories. Basically they would be able to fit every acquisition under one of these five categories. so, in effect the Amendment annuls the Act itself. Additionally, one of the many provisions of BJP amendments to the land acquisition bill affects only the purchase of land by the government or done through the government for public-private-participation projects. It does not affect at all private purchase of land under 50 acres urban or 100 acres rural; which is the vast majority of transactions leaving aside mega industrial projects. A private company can circumvent this threshold by purchasing multiple parcels of land, each under the prescribed limit, through other entities.

Fourth, the Act of 2013 was passed with support from most political parties including the BJP. Ms. Sumitra Mahajan, the current speaker, headed the parliamentary Committee that cleared the bill. What has changed since then?

Fifth, the Act has not got a fair chance so far. Most states have not framed Rules necessary for its implementation. How come it has been found to be impractical without even a trial?

The most important thing is to probably note that the BJP has made this a debate between farmers vs. growth and farmers vs. other citizens, when the simple truth is that the BJP has decided to favor big business and industry in the hope that the farmers will not understand or challenge its move. The simple truth is that it’s not just the farmers that lose, it is all citizens who will lose. For example, earlier, when land remained unutilized and compensation hadn’t been claimed, farmers used to get their land back. Now it is vested in the blatantly misused and politically influenced Gram Sabha instead of farmer’s having a share in the common land. It used to be used for ponds, greenery, environment and community-based enterprises, which all citizens could enjoy. This decision by the government is anti-farmer, anti-citizen and anti-India.

In a series of posts, I will attempt to deconstruct the land acquisition ordinance and justify AAP’s opposition to this land acquisition ordinance. Stay tuned for more.

Lieutenant Governor’s Address to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha 2015

Respected Speaker and Honourable Members,

I warmly welcome you all to the first session of the Sixth Legislative Assembly of Delhi.

It is with great humility and profound hope that my government accepts the mandate given to it by the people of Delhi.  It is a mandate that carries the dreams and aspirations of young and old, poor and rich, women and men, regardless of caste, creed or religion. There is one unifying, resounding message that the people have sent out. They want good governance that emerges out of clean politics and to achieve this they have shown their eagerness to engage with the political process. In an age of cynicism they have put their faith in the political philosophy of participative and consultative democracy that alone can lead us to Purna Swaraj that is, self-rule. My government intends to deepen and strengthen our democracy by involving people in issues that affect them on a daily basis. My government will dismantle the barriers that have come up between the elected and the electors.

My government believes that good governance should reflect the concerns of all sections of society. Equally, development must include the well-being of every citizen – that is, it must be inclusive. The goal of a safe and progressive Delhi that can hold its own amongst the best capital cities of the world cannot be achieved unless each and every citizen feels safe to pursue their livelihood, their way of life and faith. For that has been Delhi’s way. Indeed, that is the essence of the idea of India.

My government shall endeavour to be transparent, participative and interactive. We will make every effort  to establish the Janlokpal in Delhi to ensure a time-bound investigation in corruption cases. Whistleblowers shall be provided protection from harassment.

In a major move toward devolution of power to the people, my government shall seek to legislate the Swaraj Act so as to enable the local communities to have a say on issues affecting their daily lives. For this purpose a Citizen Local Area Development (C-LAD) Fund will be provided to local communities.

Further, it is the intention of my government to push for full statehood for Delhi, which has been a long-standing demand of the people of Delhi.  The provision of critical public services such as law and order and low-cost housing would happen more smoothly if Delhi were accorded autonomy as a full-fledged state with greater control over these aspects. The Centre’s publicly stated position of promoting cooperative federalism will hopefully help in securing genuine autonomy for Delhi’s governance. Only then can the problems created by a multiplicity of authorities and jurisdictions in Delhi be solved.

The ultimate aim is to ensure that institutions such as the DDA, MCD and Delhi Police are accountable to the elected government of Delhi. This will help bridge the gap between the government and the people by creating greater coordination among civic services with regard to service delivery.

Just as in its earlier tenure, this time too My government will be responsive to the need for lowering the crushing burden of accessing basic public utilities such as power and water. The policies framed will not only benefit those who already have access to these facilities, they will pay special heed to colonies that have been deprived of formal electricity and water connections.

As for the capacity to fund public services, it may be pointed out that Delhi inherently has the potential for raising higher resources due to its robust economy. In fact the Delhi State GDP in recent years has grown impressively at several percentage points above the national average. Delhi has also had a history of budget surpluses. This financial year Delhi has a total budget of around Rs.37,000 crore which, if used optimally, can truly create a new blueprint of development. How effectively and honestly these funds are deployed is the key to meeting our commitment of inclusive and holistic development. It is not a paucity of funds that has kept the citizens bereft of basic public services. The crucial question is this: how effectively are those services being delivered on the ground to the very poor. My government will rigorously do a resource audit whether it is in the area of providing electricity or water or other public services. We are convinced that Delhi has enough resources to transform it into a modern and prosperous capital city where every citizen finds a space for herself or himself.

My government shall be unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that Delhi remains a state where women feel as much at home and at ease as men in pursuing their livelihood and social pursuits – proudly leading from the front. . My government will not let any fund crunch come in the way of putting in place safety and security measures for women. As regards mobility, my government will exert itself to provide effective last mile connectivity in Delhi’s public transit system to ensure that its women are able to travel safely and securely. To ensure speedy justice, my government will create fast-track courts dedicated to handling cases of sexual assault and other crimes against women. It will create a Mahila Suraksha Dal by redeploying members of the Home Guard and Civil Defense Volunteers.  Further, my government will facilitate the appointment of new judges to ensure that the judicial system works fast and effectively.

In line with our idea of making Delhi a digital capital city par excellence, we have an effective plan to create Wi-Fi hotspots at various public locations in Delhi. This will also provide an impetus to education, entrepreneurship, business and employment as well as tie in with women’s safety initiatives.

To further this end of a capital city of excellence, my government will focus on strengthening and expanding educational and health infrastructure. It will build new schools with a special focus on secondary and senior secondary schools to ensure that every child in Delhi has easy access to quality education. We will endeavour to streamline the nursery admission process, minimizing  avenues of corruption. In the sector of Higher Education my government will make every effort to formulate schemes where every youth can pursue a diploma or degree course regardless of his or her financial status. We will build new colleges under Delhi administration in partnership with the people of Delhi. The existing seat capacity of Delhi government administered colleges will be enhanced, including at Delhi’s flagship university, the Ambedkar University.

My government will increase the budgetary allocation on healthcare infrastructure. My government will build new Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and add new beds to Delhi hospitals, especially in maternity wards. Quality drugs will be provided at an affordable price — pharmaceutical drug and equipment procurement will be centralized to cut out corruption.

Historically, Delhi has been a city of flourishing trade and my government is committed to making it a trade and retail hub once again by creating a friendly tax environment for traders. The government is firm on its commitment to insulate Delhi’s traders from the inspector raj. We will discourage raids on traders and create a bond of trust between them and the government. We want to create a policy framework where every businessman and businesswoman in the country would like to come to Delhi to establish new enterprises.

An important priority of my government concerns Delhi’s villages which over the years have become islands of neglect. My government will take steps to ensure that the people living in these spaces are able to partake the fruits of growth as well. Decisions regarding the development of Delhi’s villages will be taken with their consent. The sectors of agriculture and animal husbandry will receive incentives and infrastructural support. We shall seek to provide sports facilities in villages to encourage young adults to pursue sports. Connectivity to rural Delhi will be enhanced through increased bus and metro services.

In its effort to make Delhi a state that reaches out to its last citizen my government will create opportunities for new jobs in the next five years. The government will create an enabling environment for innovative and private startup accelerators to provide support to entrepreneurs. The focus will be on creating an ecosystem that enables private industry to create more jobs. In line with this idea, my government will encourage startups by setting up business and technology incubators in universities and colleges. Delhi government will also create affordable business incubation space.

In the past, earlier governments made announcements regularizing unauthorised colonies. Moving forward from these announcements, my government will take a more realistic and effective approach to regularise unauthorised colonies in Delhi, transforming resettlement colonies and slums, bringing them within the ambit of Delhi as a  truly global and modern capital city.

Honourable Speaker and Members, I have presented a brief sketch of my government’s intent and action plan to return Delhi to the people over the next five years. I wish you all success in this fruitful endeavour.

Cleaning Delhi’s Air: Aam Aadmi Style

Aam Aadmi Party believes that environmental policy should seek to bolster growth and development by promoting public good by applying the principles of ecological sustainability, social justice and inter-generational equity. It should not be piecemeal legislation or an afterthought but is part of the main framework of growth and development. As a result our party’s 70-point action plan, manifesto and blueprint of Delhi reflect this thoughtfulness as we seek to treat Delhi’s intractable air pollution problems.

For example, consider our electricity policy. AAP will provide cheap electricity to Delhi by fixing billing and meter defects, improve transmission and conduct a discom audit. However, we want to provide Delhi with clean electricity too! The AAP government will bid for clean power from Bhakra Nangal hydropower plant, overhaul or revamp Delhi’s polluting and non-functioning Rajghat Power plant and also bring the Bawana power plant to full utilization. Transformation in Delhi’s power generation composition will reduce air pollution. Further, AAP will facilitate a phased shift to renewable and alternate sources of energy. Incentives will be given to households, housing societies, enterprise and industry to gradually switch over to renewable energy. We are committed to ensuring that 20 percent of Delhi’s energy needs are met through solar energy by 2025.

A recent Yale University study termed us as the most polluted city, especially on PM and SPM metrics. To correct this, the Delhi Ridge, the lung of the city, will be protected from encroachment and deforestation. Environmentally appropriate afforestation would be carried out. We will acquire mechanized vacuum cleaning vehicles to clean the city’s dirt.

The Government will encourage car-pooling, ensure adherence to the highest fuel emissions standards, promote low emission fuels like CNG and increase research on electricity as a fuel to improve our transport infrastructure. Most importantly, public transport and last mile connectivity will be radically improved to reduce the number of cars on the road.

A good city is not one where the poor have cars but rather the rich use public transport. Let’s strive to make Delhi a world-class pollution free city that you can be proud of. We are happy to listen to your feedback and suggestions.

The Aam Aadmi Party government is now here to stay and solve this intractable problem!

Breathe easy! Literally!

That Was The Week That Was: Delhi Election 2015 Edition

The events of the past week have been overwhelming. Pardon me for I have just been able to compose myself to get my metaphorical pen on paper.

If I thought my job was done with the manifesto and white papers for the Aam Aadmi Party, I was mistaken. I had the tiresome pleasure of managing the emergency helpline for 60 hours non-stop till 6 pm on 7th February 2015 where we fire fought across the city in an attempt to stop the distribution of alcohol and money; promotion of violence and illicit means to swing votes away from us from Badarpur to Badli, from Babarpur to Bawana. We sat in anticipation for the verdict that the citizens of Delhi would deliver to us, which could sound the war conch for positive politics or the death knell to the first true political alternative.

And then, the magic happened. The political party that won a clear majority at the Center under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had been rejected and held back by a diminutive ragtag force of volunteers from every class, caste, religion, gender and region of the world. And how! 67 seats in the legislative assembly out of 70! It was an unprecedented victory, broke the record books of Indian electoral politics and left me stunned. Even the most conservative Fermi guesstimate would have pegged the number of hugs and screams I let out on 10th February 2015 at a few thousand.

I had returned to New Delhi after a few years of graduate school at Stanford to work for a political party that was at its nadir and a leader whose life, work, integrity and strategy at being the first true viable alternative in Indian politics was being questioned and ridiculed. June 2014, the month that I joined AAP, was not the best time to openly declare yourself as an Arvind Kejriwal fanboy or fight for the Aam Aadmi Party or as it was known in AAP-bashing circles: “The Socialist Naxalite Communist Marxist Leninist Sexist Racist Aam Aadmi Party.” And yet every bone, muscle and tendon in my body wanted to do it. And I did.

While some courteous and kind friends and relatives applauded my decision as fearless and respectable, I knew that a majority thought me to fit to be checked into a mental hospital, assumed I had received poor grades and/or had a criminal history that I wanted to hide from the United States. I chuckled and moved on. I was ready to slum it out for the ideals of the man I respected and fight for the moral ethos and genuine alternative that the Aam Aadmi Party espoused even if it meant fighting with just a few MLAs that the Modi Wave would have left us in Delhi. I had returned to work with a handful of MLAs and now we have a government and 67! I was simply astonished. Hyperboles also known as Ravi Shastri similes, for the first time, weren’t enough.

My personal journey within the party has made me meet some of the best humans and selfless individuals I’ve met till date on whom books should and will be written and grown my skills in media management/briefing, policy research, manifesto writing, data analytics, psephology, and most importantly getting a better understanding of the problems and solutions of the city I call home. Somehow through a series of fortunate events that included positive politics, coherent campaigns, mindful media management and kudrati karishmas, we ended up winning the first battle of Delhi through the Aam Aadmi Tsunami.

And yet it hadn’t sunk in. The victory was full of joy and laughter and incredulous looks and screams and more of all of that on loop every hour everyday. But there was some emotion that was missing. Something that hadn’t been triggered.

And then, 14th February 2015 happened. The Aam Aadmi Party government, nah, the Aam Aadmi was sworn in to power with Arvind Kejriwal as its Chief Minister. 100,000 people were in attendance with millions more in their homes and in front of their TV screens. And then Arvind Kejriwal came and said:

“Main Arvind Kejriwal Ishwar ki Shapath Leta Hoon”

And the floodgates opened. I wept profusely for the first time in years in what can only be described as a potpourri of emotions. I was hugged and consoled and loved by the many selfless souls I mentioned above with jokes and by revisiting funny moments of the campaign. And then I slipped away to the side and wept silently for some more. For all their jokes, even my most cheerful colleagues had a tear on their eyelids. For months, an Aam Army had fought with a singularity of purpose and that had happened. Unbelievable. For a love story that had gone astray on 14th February 2014, Delhi received its most beautiful makeup/reunion on the Valentine’s Day gift on 14th February 2015.

The impossible had happened. And there is a lot more impossible yet to do. My childhood dream of bringing Anil Kapoor’s Nayak to life from SET Max has gotten a start in my lifetime. The second half i.e. Office begins tomorrow. To those of you still reading through this stream of consciousness, I thank you once again for entrusting the reins of governance in Delhi to us at the Aam Aadmi Party. We are incredibly humbled and almost scared by the immense responsibility that you have placed on our shoulders. However, you are also our source of strength and we are confident that, along with your continued support and blessings, we will make Delhi the corruption-free world class city that you will be proud of.

Godspeed You! Aam Aadmi 🙂

Photo: No weeping pictures here. I share a picture from a happier moment on 10th February 2015. That moment when even CNN-IBN, Zee News, India TV had called my boss, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi. He hugged me and said “Ab yeh jo Manifesto likha hai, usey karna bhi padega”! 🙂