By Gaurav Sharma
It was yet another day when I was woken up by the alarm tone of my mobile phone at 7.30 a.m. only to realise that I would no longer be covering the feeble-looking but feisty Arvind Kejriwal who shook up Delhi’s political landscape in just 49 days as the chief minister.
The resignation of Kejriwal and his six young cabinet ministers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over the stalling of Jan Lokpal Bill – touted as the panacea for corruption – in the assembly has ended a chapter which some would term “glorious” and others “turbulent”.
It all began Dec 28 when the activist-turned-politician took oath as the chief minister at the historic Ramlila Maidan in the heart of the capital that was thronged by over a lakh of people hoping to see a new alternative political system.
Choosing a sprawling ground for the swearing-in over the Delhi assembly was his first step towards breaking political conventions.
There was a sense of scepticism among the fraternity of journalists – which seeps into their personality over a period of time – whether Kejriwal’s intention to “serve the people” was kosher as he had taken outside support of the Congress to form the minority government.
Under the weight of expectations of 16 million people, the rookie establishment set sail by reshuffling bureaucrats considered “loyal” to the Congress which ruled Delhi for 15 years.
Delhi Secretariat was thrown open to public on the AAP’s maiden day in power – an unprecedented act.
Within a few days, the AAP began delivering on its big ticket promises on which it had wrested power from the Grand Old Party of India – the Congress – which has ruled the country for over five decades.
Contrary to the expectations of its critics and political opponents, who had termed its promises impractical, the AAP delivered on cheap water and power.
The government worked on weekends, giving a tough but exciting time to journalists who were never short of stories.
Even a single line statement by the chief minister was a story for journalists, who relentlessly reported each and every step of the government. It seemed like a carnival.
Reporting on the AAP government in Delhi proved to be a blessing as I was becoming a part of the history which I do not see being repeated in the foreseeable future.
Despite being under pressure to deliver stories on time, what kept me going were the anecdotes I will regale posterity with.
I might not get a chance to see any chief minister staging a sit-in in his own state and sleeping on the road. And I might also not witness the sight of a law minister (Somnath Bharti) raiding a house with a posse of party men, allegedly to uncover a drugs and prostitution ring.
It will be hard to see another chief minister eschewing red beacon motorcades and sprawling colonial-era bungalows. His grey coloured muffler and floater sandals worn over socks became the talk of the town.
The 49-day tumultuous and action-packed reporting on AAP government has come to a sudden – though, I think, scripted – end.
It would be interesting to see whether the AAP will be able tap into the disgust of people over pervasive corruption and bureaucratic indifference and enter the Indian parliament with the same bang it entered the assembly of Delhi.
It may be premature to write the political obituary of a man who scripted his ‘sudden death’. There is little doubt he will remain a tormentor of the Congress and the BJP and will continue to set the political agenda in the months to come.
(Gaurav Sharma is a reporter with IANS. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)