New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Arvind Kejriwal was a “common man” when he stepped out to campaign for his first Assembly election in 2013. A full term, and then some later, the IITian is back but as the “elder son” of the national capital.
While being sworn-in as the Chief Minister for the first time in 2013, Kejriwal said it was not him who became the Chief Minister but the common man had taken oath of office.
“This is the victory of a common man,” he had said.
Even during his campaigns in 2013 and 2015, he was spotted claiming that he is the common man of the city, just like everyone else.
When he took to the streets for campaigning for the 2020 Assembly polls, a subtle hint here and a casual familial remark there was made to project him as the city’s “elder son”, who called even his rivals as his family.
More than a “common man” he was the city’s “elder son”, the strategic move perhaps to hit an emotional note with the city could be spotted from his speeches from October, 2019, when the AAP started making preparations for the election.
He started with “Delhi is a family and I am its elder son”.
While initially the “common man” found some mention in his speeches, it slowly faded away. The narrative of being the son became more and more prominent as the elections drew closer.
“I had a family of seven people, which got bigger when I formed AAP. When I became the chief minister of Delhi, I got an even bigger family of 2 crore people. The entire Delhi is my family now. I understand the plight of a common man because I was the same as you all a few years back. I know the problems a common man has to face when he has to pay the electricity and water bills at the end of the month, I know the problems faced by him when he has to pay the school fees of his children. I know his pain when he has to arrange for finances to provide medical care to a sick person in the family,” he had said in December.
Later, he added that the two crore people of Delhi are his family, and he is like the elder son of this family as he subsidised the bills in Delhi.
“I have worked as an elder son of every family in the last five years. I paid the electricity and water bills for your family, I arranged for a good education for the children of the family, I took care of the health of your family and arranged for medicines, I arranged for pilgrimage for the elders of the family. I have tried to take all these responsibilities on my shoulder by being an elder son and an elder brother of every household in Delhi in the last five years. The two crore people of Delhi are like a family.”
The Chief Minister went on to call the independent candidates as his family even though they filed nominations against him from the New Delhi seat.
A group of former DTC employees turned up to file nominations on the last day, which, according to some AAP leaders, was a plan to thwart Kejriwal’s nomination.
The national AAP convenor, however, called the other contestants part of his family.
“Many of them are filing for the first time. They are bound to make mistakes. We also made mistakes the first time. We should handhold them. I am enjoying waiting with them. They are all part of my family,” Kejriwal said, while the other AAP leaders were annoyed with the delay.
Not only this, the Chief Minister is also releasing recorded video messages for different people and had released videos for elders, girls, youth and women among others.
In the videos, he is directly speaking to the target audience and is highlighting the work done by his government to improve their lives.
Now, this has become a part of Kejriwal’s everyday speeches, however, the party does not call it a conscious attempt.
According to the Aam Aadmi Party, it was the people who are calling Kejriwal as their “elder son” as he is fulfilling the responsibilities of an elder son.
“Kejriwal is taking care of the education, health, electricity and water bills and also ensuring free travel to women and giving free pilgrimage trips to elders, in our culture, it is the responsibility of the elder son. We are not calling him the elder son but wherever we are going for campaigning, people are calling him the elder son of Delhi,” said a party leader.
The common man theme had resonated with people during both 2013 and 2015 polls. However, the magic of the elder son this time around can only be revealed on counting day on February 11 after the city goes to polls on February 8.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])