Swaraj, civil disobedience experiments began at home

Before there was AAP, or the Jan Lokpal agitation, there was a Kaushambi resident who realized mass movements can move big wheels of power. He organized residents of different apartments into one, big campaign demanding basic civic amenities from Ghaziabad authorities. Almost seven years hence, that resident has metamorphosed into Delhi’s youngest chief minister-in waiting , Arvind Kejriwal.

On Monday, as Kaushambi’s most famous resident left home to meet the LG, locals recalled the spectacular journey that began in 2006. Through a series of RTI queries that year, Kejriwal had unearthed false expenses shown by Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation towards developing basic infrastructure of the city. Together with the Kaushambi Apartments’ RWAs (KARWA), Kejriwal started a long-drawn campaign. «In reality, civic amenities were in a shambles. Our main demands were good roads, community centres and sewage systems,» said Dr K K Sehgal, general-secretary, KARWA.

Kejriwal successfully exhorted residents not to pay house tax for two years, but instead pay the same to their RWAs through cheques. A sum in excess of Rs 3 crore was reportedly collected. «In a public function held thereafter, the cheques were handed over to the municipal corporation. Authorities soon commenced work on basic infrastructure,» said N Rajamani, former president of KARWA.

Ghaziabad Development Authority laid roads and also built a community centre at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. The success inspired Kejriwal to come up with a very early model of self-governance, which evolved into AAP’s Swaraj model.

«Kejriwal campaigned door to door along with other residents to convince people about the efficacy of his methods,» said Dr Vipin Mittal, a close associate of the AAP leader.

In 2010, the CWG scam unfolded, and Kejriwal, residents said, moved to national politics. «He contacted activists like Anna Hazare, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi. He had realized that the stage was set to expand his Kaushambi experiment to the national stage,» said N D Gupta, a KARWA member.

And now that AAP has pulled off quite a spectacular upset, Kaushambi residents expect Kejriwal to expand base to NCR and address pending civic issues. Sewage disposal remains a cause of concern for Kaushambi even though authorities claim to have begun work on it.
«Kejriwal had started alone but was joined by myriad supporters in his campaign. We are ready to back him for developing Ghaziabad if he decides to come here,» said Gulshan Sadana, Kejriwal’s associate in Kaushambi.


Swaraj, civil disobedience experiments began at home – The Times of India.

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