I like this part of the year, when people have finally shut up about how “Dude I got so wasted on the 31st that I made out with the shoe rack it was epic bro”. It’s also when we’ve shrugged off the disappointments of the previous year so as to make room for new steaming piles of disappointment.
Having said that, one thing that I’m really looking forward to in 2014 is the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party. Let’s face it – everyone loves a good underdog story, unless their name is Sheila Dixit. Arvind Kejriwal is Daniel-san from Karate Kid (and now I’m picturing Anna as Mr. Miyagi in a corner going, “Fast on, fast off” before melting into a puddle of irrelevance.)
Kejriwal may have been criticised for his populist schemes but damn it all, because he has created history by becoming the first man from Ghaziabad to ever garner positive press. Otherwise all you get are headlines like “Ghaziabad man slits wrist after pet buffalo spurns his advances.” (In case you Bombay people are wondering, Ghaziabad is sort of like the Kurla of U.P – lots of murders, one mall.)
Now while Kejriwal may have an IIT-IRS background, his most important qualification is still ‘Did Not Preside Over A Scam Factory Or Mass Murder’. Another thing that everyone seems to have latched on to is the extreme middle-classness of the man. For example, everyone loves the fact that he still drives a WagonR, which is understandable because other politicians wouldn’t even let their dogs pee on a WagonR. These relatable traits make for great news, so you can expect to see more such middle-class headlines in the future. For example:
Kejriwal haggles with sabziwala, calls him chor; housewives scream in ecstasy.
Mrs. Kejriwal judges neighbour’s daughter for talking to boy, Khap Panchayat offers external support.
Kejriwal gets new car sticker that looks like puppy peering out from boot, AAP fans say, “No bro, too much tacky.”
Kejriwal also resonates with the elites because now they get to feel good about themselves by outsourcing their humility to him. This is what people said when they found out about Kejriwal taking the metro:
“Wow, that is commendable. He is a man of the people. Such a nice, middle-class uncle type guy. I bet his hobby is telling every kid in his mohalla to stop playing and go study for IIT-JEE. If this were a film, he’d be the family friend played by Satish Shah. Jai Hind.”
And this is what people actually thought:
“Shoot me if I’m still taking public transport in my 40s.”
It’s hugely entertaining to watch AAP navigate the political arena. The festivities kicked off with the swearing-in ceremony at Ramleela Maidan, where Kejriwal actually started singing about honesty in the middle of his speech, much to the delight of Delhiites who responded with “OYE DJ HONEY SINGH BAJA AUNTY PULLSS BULA LEGI!”
Then we saw the emergence of poet and AAP right-hand man, Kumar Vishwas. (Fun Fact: His romantic poetry is widely used to console North Indian engineering students after they get dumped for being, well, North Indian engineering students.)
Vishwas announced his candidature for 2014 from Amethi, and dared both the Gandhi scion and Narendra Modi to take him on. I like this sudden burst of zing that’s come in after the Delhi victory. The AAP is like a Yashraj heroine who is quiet and demure at first, but then has her first ever drink and transforms into a wild and whimsical beast that fears nothing, not even pre-marital sex. This challenge is basically the AAP’s version of “Dum hai toh bahar nikal!” It’s as if their campaign is sponsored by Maa ka Doodh. (Apparently they hired Dharmendra to help spread this message, but he kept referring to Kumar Vishwas as “Chhotu, drink bana.”)
Kejriwal finally zeroed in on his official residence this week, choosing to forego the bungalow he’s entitled to, for a duplex flat on Bhagwan Das Road, which has to be the most middle-class sounding address in the world. The only way it could be more middle-class is if he bought the flat at Big Bazaar.
But even this wasn’t enough for the BJP, who said that a duplex apartment goes against the principles of austerity. And who better to tell you about fiscal prudence than the party that promises to spend millions on a house for an imaginary being?
So that’s the situation just five days into 2014, and it’s only going to get more chaotic. It’s a long road ahead for the AAP, but I’m optimistic, because those Maruti cars are known to go on for ages.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 5th Jan 2014.)