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Rediff.com  » News » 'Kejriwal never wanted to fight the Lok Sabha election'

'Kejriwal never wanted to fight the Lok Sabha election'

April 14, 2014 09:41 IST

An AAP banner in the party office in Ghaziabad

'I get angry when people throw ink or slap him -- but Arvind takes all this in his stride. People make fun of him and point out his mistakes, but they haven't seen his sacrifice...'

'If you understand his commitment towards this country, you will not dare say anything against him.'

Dr Bipin Mittal, a longtime friend and family doctor of the Aam Aadmi Party leader, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih about the Arvind Kejriwal few know.

Arvind first came to me as a patient. He hadn't slept the whole night because of a toothache. I told him he needed a root canal or extraction.

I was cheaper than other dentists in the locality, but when I told him the price, he said he couldn't afford it. He got the tooth pulled out.

In my wildest dream I couldn't have imagined that an IRS (Indian Revenue Service) officer cannot afford a cheap dentist.

Then once on the eve of Diwali, I had gone to buy diyas and I saw the husband-wife sitting outside their building behind a table with some gift items.

"What's this?" I asked. He said before Diwali, he had put a notice outside the gate saying 'No gifts.' but despite that people gave them. "This is a forced way of giving ghoos (bribes) during Diwali -- like mithai for the kids," he said.

He told me he was sitting there to sell them off and give the proceeds to an NGO.

It was so shocking for me. An IRS couple sitting on the road -- it was unimaginable.

I get angry when people throw ink or slap him -- but Arvind takes all this in his stride. It angers me because he has a different stature for me. I am an atheist, but to me, he's God...

When he called a press conference against Robert Vadra and later against others I was very scared. In western UP, you know what the law and order situation is like. The value of one's life is not much here.

We then thought of putting a request that if he doesn't want government security, he should keep some AAP volunteers with him 24 hours. But he wasn't ready. We then put up a page on Facebook -- that your body is national property, it belongs to us -- and there were 10,000 people who signed in no time, but he didn't yield.

He has tremendous conviction.

Dr Bipin MittalWhen we entered the fray in the assembly we could feel the pulse. The volunteers were so pumped up. Our volunteers have a different mindset, they were there with Arvind for a cause and that cause was supreme in their minds.

When he was thinking about contesting against Sheila Dixit, I told him it was political suicide. Arvind's victory in New Delhi was the most amazing of them all...

The problem is that the media has suddenly become so important in the country, that it is the media which basically makes people's viewpoint. (Dr Mittal is referring to the perception that people are disappointed with Mr Kejriwal's resignation as Delhi chief minister after just 49 days in office)...

The educated middle class is little disappointed. What these people don't understand is, how do you rein in people? Most of our ministers were just common people. If someone gives me 50 crore (Rs 500 million) to sign a paper, I don't know -- I am clean till I am given the opportunity, isn't it?

Without a Jan Lokpal it was a very risky. With a Jan Lokpal you could have improved everything. So you can see the glass half full or half empty...

No doubt, it was the support from the educated middle class that got us so many seats, but his resignation can be debated.

The educated are saying he gave up responsibility, you only tell me if any one banda would have made a mistake, everything would have reflected on Arvind alone and he would have been destroyed forever.

The truth is ki us gaddi ke andar na bichoo hain (The highest throne is fraught with immense danger).

A tough law like the Jan Lokpal is needed that even if Arvind makes a mistake, he will be accountable...

The problem is the educated middle class of this country like to discuss this over coffee. They will never come out on the streets and face police batons or water cannons. How many of these will send their kids to the border?

The reality is that this disappointment (that a section of the middle class is feeling with Mr Kejriwal) is just a matter of time. This so-called euphoria for Narendra Modi is just a matter of time.

Doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani hone mein zyada waqt nahin lagega (The truth will be revealed soon). The educated will soon realise that Arvind is the right person.

Arvind power ke peechey na kabhi tha, na kabhi rahega (Arvind was never and will never be hungry for power). The reality is that he is 45 going on 46. He is in his prime and he has never been materialistic...

I have know him since 1995, but wasn't very close in the beginning.

He thought of a pilot project in Kaushambi (in Ghaziabad, where Mr Kejriwal lived till he moved to New Delhi) for which he needed my help because I was always a very social person.

Arvind has always been very passionate about his work. Once he gets after something, toh lag jaata hain.

For two-and-a-half years, Arvind and me would be together from morning to evening. We used to go to every household -- there was no sewer outlet and we used to tell people why are you giving house tax which also has a sewerage charge, when you are not getting these services?

People had never thought about it. These people were educated people, happy with their homes being clean and not bothering where the sewerage was going.

After two-and-a-half years of hard labour, the local administration, especially the commissioner of Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam, Ajay Shankar Pandey, younger brother of Vijay Shankar Pandey -- Mayawati's right hand man -- promised at a public function that all civil services, maintenance of street lights, roads, parks etc would be given to RWA (resident welfare associations) to maintain.

Swaraj (Mr Kejriwal's book) basically says that services like roads, water, sewer, street lights -- the maintenance will be done by the locals. Whatever money is allocated by the State will be spent according to the wishes of the local people. Money to contractors will only be paid when local people clear it.

Parivartan (an NGO formed by Mr Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia) was formed in 2001. Manish Sisodia has been with him right from the first day.

Fighting the Lok Sabha election, according to me, was a big folly. Arvind also wasn't in its favour.

After December 8, there was lots of euphoria. For many like me the euphoria should have been used to strengthen the organisation, but then most of the people in the higher-up hierarchy wanted the party to fight the national election. They wanted the euphoria to be utilised there.

Arvind never wanted to fight the Lok Sabha. Never.

But all the rest of them thought that achieving a certain percentage in the national election would get them recognition as a national party, but just two months with Arvind and Manish busy with the Delhi government -- according to me that was one mistake.

Even if the result (of the Lok Sabha election) is not good, people like Arvind never tire and give up... Woh thak ke ghar baithney walon mein se nahin hain (He is not going to give up and sit at home).

When nothing came after our public meeting, dharna with Commissioner Pandey, Arvind took swaraj to a higher pedestal, met leaders of political parties, legal luminaries.

The pessimism that has set in Indians needs to be overcome. With the AAP, for the first time people came to know that is tarah ki rajneeti bhi jeet sakti hain (This kind of politics can also succeed).

I trust him completely. Woh isaan apne ko taak pe rakh kar is desh ke prati jo apni soch rakhta hain na woh is desh ke log ko kuchi time mein samajh ayega (He is selfless and thinks about the nation. The people of this country will realise this soon).

The Jan Lokpal andolan ar Ramleela Maidan in August 2011

When the Anna andolan happened in August 2011, we were not thinking on political lines at all. It is only after the prime minister gave us a signed letter and that promise was ratified by Parliament, but once these people went back on their word, people started talking about political lines.

My father tells me a few months later, he and Arvind had gone to the metro station in an auto. Papa told him there is no other option than to enter politics and he vehemently denied it.

("He said he'll never join. This is in 2011," says Dr Mittal's father who is also sitting in the room.)

At that time it was only people who were suggesting it to us, there was no voice coming from within.

Each and every word of the Jan Lokpal bill was drafted by Arvind. When this movement was being planned, the banners were being designed, I had told Arvind that it's your baby, your photograph must be there, but Arvind is a different person.

He only kept Anna's photo which was not a small tyaag (sacrifice). I don't think there can be any other person in this world who could have done that and it is because of that the Jan Lokpal andolan became Anna andolan.

Nobody said it was Arvind's movement, it was Anna's movement. The wording of the bill was his, for its legal language it was given to Prashantji (Bhushan), Shanti Bhushanji and various other luminaries like (former Delhi high court chief justice Rajinder) Sacharji etc...

Then Arvind thought of doing the July 25 fast for 10 days. I was the only doctor with him. During his fast, the medical responsibility was always mine. I will never forget those 10 days and later those 15 days, he really tested me.

He is a diabetic. A diabetic person needs to have meals at regular intervals, regulated diet, medicines have to be taken on time, but since he was in public life, he could never manage that.

I thought it was suicide for a diabetic to go on hunger strike. I fought with him against it, but he didn't listen.

When he makes up his mind, nobody on earth can make Arvind change it.

His zeal, his passion towards his goal... people nowadays make fun of him and point out his mistakes, but the reality is that these people haven't seen his sacrifice.

If you understand his commitment towards this country, you will not dare say anything against him.

When he was fasting, I told him, 'Do you think anyone will support your family if anything happens to you?'

When he left the IRS and got into social service, his relatives used to blame him. Everyone used to remind him that he has a family.

On the third day of the fast, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital doctors advised that he should be hospitalised. A DGP (director general of police) phoned and warned us not to get admitted in the hospital as doctors can be very timid.

I was in a fix -- such seniors doctors from RML advising immediate hospitalisation, while Arvind saying that he is fit.

There were other volunteer doctors and 450 people on fast along with Arvind, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai. The doctors said with the ketone levels at 3 plus, he should be hospitalised.

I said but he doesn't want to and clinically he seems to be fine. Arvind relies more on naturopathy and Ayurveda. He was so confident that nothing would happen to him.

I had no other option. We were volunteers there to help Arvind's movement, not merely doctors. He carried on for another week, but believe me it was a very trying time.

The journalists covering the fast used to say 'Doctorsaab, are you sure? Your whole career is at stake. If anything happens to Arvind you will lose your registration, put in jail because the government doctors had advised immediate hospitalisation.'

But working with Arvind all these years, we had this thing in us -- not to go just by the book.

It was Friday afternoon and I told Arvind bahut ho gaya, sarkar toh sun hi nahin rahi hain (it's enough, the government is not paying heed) so what's the use? He said some prominent people have written a letter that now a political option will have to be given. The announcement of the letter will be made at 5 pm.

Tasawarr Ali, an AAP supporter at the party office in KaushambiHe said we'll keep this in front of the janta and give it two days to decide. If people say andolan, then we'll continue -- chahey jaan chali jaye (even if I have to sacrifice my life) but if they say a political alternative, then we'll think of forming a party.

But before that we came to know that Anna had announced. It was Anna who announced this talk of the letter about prominent people writing about a political alternate.

That wasn't the way Arvind had wanted it. He had wanted a referendum. Prashant Bhushan and Sanjay Singh, who were sitting on the dais, were thunder-struck. Arvind was equally disturbed.

When Anna came down, Arvind went to talk to him and Anna asked maine kuch galat kiya? (did I make a mistake?)

I am a student of pure science who has never bowed down or folded my hands before God. I am an atheist.

I have been to jhuggies with him. I've seen him being humiliated by his relatives. I have seen his life and politics was never in his mind at that time.

There are certain things that have to be understood. I have seen Arvind's sacrifice closely. I know what his thought process is like. I have full faith in him. He has never wanted anything for himself.

Those who don't know him can view him however they want to. I am also Arvind's greatest critic.

He got married when he was in IRS training in Nagpur, he had a colleague who used to listen to both him and bhabhi, and she told them that your thoughts are alike.

In the 2011 August andolan, they transferred bhabhi and the house had to be vacated. Myself with Arvind's parents, we roamed in Kaushambi for 10 days for a rented flat, not a single banda (Person) was willing to give a house on rent.

When the AAP was formed, no one was ready to give us office space because we never used to have the money. I had a vacant flat which I gave them.

The reality is -- trust me -- that we have not done anything. People call our (medical) profession noble, but it is a means to earn our living, its side effect may be noble but we haven't come for nobility.

Because of Arvind I found something that my profession could never give me. I have never practiced like other doctors and perhaps that is what brought Arvind to me.

I can bask in the glory and joy of what this andolan gave me.

Archana Masih/Rediff.com in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh