As Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal enters fourth day of his indefinite fast against «illegal» electricity and water bills in Delhi, the turnout of people in Sundernagri, where he is holding what he calls a «civil disobedience movement», remains thin. While there has been a departure in strategy with most volunteers focussing on 264 wards in Delhi, the question is, did Kejriwal ask for too much when he asked people not to pay their bills?
Back in August 2011, Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan was jam packed as anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare fasted for 13 days for the Lokpal Bill. Two years on, Anna’s strategist Kejriwal is himself on an indefinite fast in Sundernagri to protest against «inflated» electricity and water bills in the national capital. However, this time, the «movement» has not attracted a lot of crowd.
«Please get rid of your fear. 1,12000 people have gotten rid of their fears. The whole of Delhi will get together. Have some confidence in your ownself,» Kejriwal said as he continued with his fast. Kejriwal deliberately chose to fast in the house of one of his activists in a colony that is a Congress bastion, but unlike the Anna movement, this fast is different as there is no activity on the stage to attract people and his volunteers are busy moving from house to house.
Kejriwal’s repeated calls to the aam aadmi since September to stop paying electricity bills and burn them instead has not brought the aam aadmi out on the streets in protest. But Kejriwal isn’t daunted – after more than 50 public meetings, the push to establish the party as a bankable alternative is definitely on.
«It is certainly very important programme for the party, not critical but it is certainly important for the party,» said party leader Prashant Bhushan. In terms of strategy, this fast marks a departure from the earlier ones. All AAP activists have fanned out across Delhi asking people to sign on petitions addressed to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, and while more than 10000 have been signed, it remains to be seen how many of them will actually not pay their bills or vote for the party.