Two days with AAP in Banaras

‘Varanasi’ is only the official name. Sometimes, to make a poetic point, someone may say Kashi.   But ‘Banaras’ is how Banarasis refer to their city.

Banaras ki parampara, they say. Or hum Banaras ke musalman.

Kaal Bhairav Banaras ke kotwal hain, says the mahant of the Shitala Mata temple. Kaal Bhairav (Shiva) is the keeper of the gates of Banaras.

And of course, Banaras ki chaat khaayi hai aapne? Banaras ka paan nahin khayenge?

do seet

Sticker on wall of home in Rajmandir, a Hindu locality (All pictures by JAMAL KIDWAI)

My old friend and comrade Jamal Kidwai and I were in Banaras to observe the AAP campaign, being supporters of AAP (me) and of Arvind Kejriwal in Banaras (Jamal), and to hang out with the (largely young) volunteers who have landed up – from IT and advertising, from colleges and small government jobs, from Bangalore and Mumbai, from Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh – to map Banaras with their feet. So this does not purport to be an objective account – unlike journalists’ accounts of the ‘Modi wave’, which do claim to be purely factual. As Professor Randhir Singh is fond of reminding us – in Paris in 1968, the first question the students would hurl at all speakers was always – “Where do you speak from?”

We know now where the media speaks from. We wanted to go see another Banaras, about which we could find no accounts except in the social media, and observe it as honestly as we possibly could – despite the immense, heartfelt desire that so many of us now vest in this ancient city that finds itself all of a sudden, the Ground Zero of the 21st century in the battle for India’s soul.

At this point, it felt as if every Banarasi is geared up to be asked by some random outsider at some point – Aap ko kya lagta hai – kaun jeetega? Who will win, do you think? Of course, that was the first question we flung at the hapless, polite young manager of the hotel we stayed in.

“Modi was winning Ma’am…”, was the despondent answer.

Was winning?”

“Yes, didn’t you see on TV? Modi was winning, but now…everybody is out to get him. It’s like any bugger should win, except Modi…”

“But how do you know he was winning?”

He was incredulous – “Don’t you watch TV, Ma’am? He was winning.”

“What about Kejriwal?”

He made a disgusted face. “Don’t talk to me about him…”

We were there for two days, we decided to join in the door to door campaign of AAP, and see how things went. In the AAP campaign office, a flat in a new 11 storey apartment block near Guru Ravidas Gate, (belonging to a supporter), teams are being despatched at 9 am, with two kinds of forms. One for details of people who offer to  be booth managers, one to list every single house they visit in terms of number of voters, contact numbers and in terms of whether they are A, B or C.

I ask Kanushree, taking a break from her advertising work, who is managing operations here – what are these categories?

She explains. After a conversation with the people in the household, if they appear to be supporters, that’s A  – Apne. Ours. These will be invited to volunteer in the door-to-door campaigns, to be booth managers, or at the very least, ensure that everybody in their neighbourhood gets out to vote.

If they are clearly hostile, and no headway can be made at all, they are B – Begaane. Not-ours. No further effort will be made with these.

But the largest number of households they encounter at first contact, she tells me, are C – Confused.

‘Confused’, it turns out, is a sharply political category

These are people who ask more and more questions about AAP, about what they stand for, what difference are they going to make, why did the AAP government resign in Delhi. These are people who have always voted for Sapa (Samajwadi Party), for Congress, for Bhajpa (BJP), for Baspa (BSP) – largely along religious and caste identity lines. They are Yadavs, Muslims, Dalits, Brahmins, Banias. The ‘confusion’ is that their pre-scripted loyalties that have locked their religious and caste identities into rigid party formations, are dissolving.

They want to know more about this party with its earnest young volunteers, which seems to be attracting more and more local volunteers, they want to know more about that man who could pass unnoticed in a crowd of aam admi, but who shook Nayi Dilli to its corrupt, decaying old roots.

These households will be returned to, more conversations will take place.

I find it revealing that now that the media has belatedly started recognizing that something is churning in Banaras, they focus exclusively on Muslims. For example, this morning the Times of India carries a story titled ‘AAP upsets some old equations in Varanasi ‘. Yes, we discovered that too, but it turns out the story, illustrated by pictures of two anonymous women in full, face-covering burqas and of Modi, Rai and Kejriwal, is only about the Muslim voters.

Of course, there is no doubt that the Muslim community is galvanized by AAP. On the first day, we accompanied Deepak, who never takes his AAP topi off in public, to Omkaleshwar ward, where he was to meet AAP volunteers of two neighbouring wards as well – Pathani Tola and Chittanpura. These are localities of the Bunkars, the weaver community and the famed zardozi (gold thread embroidery) workers of Banaras. In the course of the day, chief volunteers from these three wards, in all about 15 young men, trooped in and out of the workshop and home of Ikhlaqbhai, still a member of Congress, but fully in support of AAP. The nitty-gritty of booth management was explained by Deepak, the need for daily walks around the neighbourhood, ensuring that everybody votes – all of which was received with enthusiasm and some impatience – yahan sab AAP hi ko vote denge. Roz roz morche nikaalne ki zaroorat nahin hai. Everybody will vote for AAP here, no need for daily marches.

Deepak with volunteers

Deepak with volunteers in Ikhlaq bhai’s house

(Incidentally, just before the evening morcha in Omkaleshwar, Rajdeep Sardesai was seen in the neighborhood, and some people came up to us muttering angrily. Apparently all those being interviewed were saying is baar sub Kejriwal ko vote de rahe hain, hindu ho ya musulman, (everyone is voting for Kejriwal this time, Hindus and Muslims) but then he turned to the camera and said in English – ‘Muslims are voting for AAP.’ I wondered whether, if a group of Hindus had declared that Muslims are doing this or that, their opinion would have been totally ignored like this. To be fair, I must add that I did not see the final programme.)

What about Mukhtar Ansari and his support for Congress? The response varied from “Did you notice that he said he supports Congress, not Ajay Rai” to “Ansari kya samajhta hai, voh jaisa kahega hum vote dalenge?” Does Ansari think he will tell us whom to vote for and we’ll just do it?

Of course they are very clear about one thing. AAP cannot win on Muslim votes alone. Yahan aap ko milenge vote, said Ikhlaq bhai. Lekin Hinduon mein bhi kaam kar rahe hain, na? You are working among Hindus too, right?

Deepak with volunteers

Ikhlaq uses the time spent on the meeting, to cut freehand, each identical to the other, the paper shapes on which zardozi, embroidery with gold thread, will be carried out. These shapes, seen embroidered below, are for US Army caps!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The women, they must get out and vote, says Deepak. At this, there is skepticism expressed by the older men – “yahan ki auratein…” But the younger men sound more determined. One of them says, “Aap chinta mat kijiye, yahan junoon aisa hai ki chhota baccha bhi apni ma ke haath kheenchkar vote dalwane le jayega .” Don’t worry, the passions are running so high that every little child will pull his mother by the hand to the voting booth.

And transportation for the women to vote? Deepak says, as other AAP volunteers clearly have before him, that the party cannot help them financially at all. One of the volunteers laughs – “haanh, haanh hamein pata hai, yeh party hamein paise nahin degi, balki hum apne paise lagayenge party mein!” Yes, we know, this party will give us no money, instead we will put our money into the party.

Everyone expects some bawaal, violence, on voting day – the intimidation and physical violence by BJP on AAP volunteers has been public and relentless. The day we arrived, a volunteer’s arm had been broken during a public nukkad meeting which was disrupted by about ten people. Everyone emphasizes – vote early in the morning, the moment the booths open, and be done with it. News of bawaal will scare off voters.

All this intimidation is working to the benefit of AAP. The mahant of Shitala Mata mandir, whom we meet the next day, Jagdish Dube, says – “yeh sab jo Kejriwal par beet rahi hai, sharm aati hai hamein. Koi mandir se nikal raha ho, aur uspar ande phekna – yeh hamare Banaras ki parampara nahin hai. Kaise Hindu hain ye!” All these attacks on Kejriwal, we feel ashamed. Someone is coming out of a temple, and you throw eggs at him – this is not the tradition of Banaras. What sort of Hindus are these!


Shri Jagdish Dube urf Goodad Maharaj, the mahant of Ma Shitala Mandir, Rajmandir.

We hear stories from different parts of Banaras – AAP volunteers setting up a projector for screening a film in a neighbourhood, and some men landing up to threaten and intimidate them, unplugging the projector, about to smash it, when local people intervene, ask them to leave, and help AAP to carry on with the screening.

A women’s meeting going on in a home in a Hindu locality, BJP men come in, call the woman of the house out, “bhabhiji, chai pilaaiye”, they say, settling down. She smiles accommodatingly, and leaving them sitting there in her front room, comes back inside to calmly continue with the meeting. “I would have made chai for my husband or his friends. Who are these people to demand chai?”, she asks indignantly.

This intimidation is also the reason, says Varun, the campaign manager of AAP, why if directly asked by a stranger or the media, people may not say the truth. Often he said, they found that people in casual conversations in shared rickshaws and so on, would begin by saying of course Modi will win, but upon further clarity about who the questioner is, would take out a topi from their pocket and say,  actually hum vote jhaadoo ko denge. Varun called this the silent vote, which in his estimation, is larger than we think. After all, he reminds us, BJP had only 14 percent of the vote of the population of Banaras, and Mukhtar Ansari lost by only 17 thousand votes to Murli Manohar Joshi in the last elections.

Meanwhile, by evening in Omkaleshwar, the team for the evening pheri assembles, topis in place, and off we go. There are no women in our group, but they come out to their doors look, to smile at me. A swarm of little children scamper around us, joining shrilly in the slogans that ring in the narrow winding lanes: Inquilab Zindabad. Long live the revolution

Niklo bahar makaanon se/ jung lado beimaanon se. Come out of your homes/fight the battle against the dishonest

dilli mein sheela haari hai/ab modi ki baari hai. Sheela has lost in Delhi, now it’s Modi’s turn

bhrashtaachar ka ek hi kaal/ kejriwal kejriwal. The one destroyer of corruption – Kejriwal.

Earlier, when we were wandering around the neighbourhood with Deepak, in his cap, and later, as we were leaving the locality through the bustling market – again and again he was hailed, people held his hand, and offered him a facial expression and a hand gesture (a sort of nirbhaya mudra) we recognized – “Phikar mat kijiye“, was what it meant. Or they would ask him, why did Kejriwal resign?

On this question –  why did he resign – we heard some interesting responses in both localities we visited – the other was Rajmandir, a Hindu neighbourhood, previously a stronghold of BJP.

Some said, “chhodna nahin chahiye tha, pehli baar ek imaandar aadmi kursi pe baithe the“. He shouldn’t have left, for the first time there was an honest man in power.

And “achha kiya chhod diya, dekha, janta ko nazarandaz nahin kiya, kursi ko nazarandaz kiya”. Good he left, look, he didn’t ignore the people, he ignored power.

He should not have left – because he is ours, he is honest, who ever leaves the kursi?

In Rajmandir we recognized a quite different way in which this was referred to, more in the style made familiar by the media – “Kaun hai yeh Kejriwal, sarkar banayi aur bhag gaya“, said a middle aged man in a starched white kurta pyjama. One of the volunteers said, smiling, “kahan bhag gaya, aap ke saamne toh khada hai.” But they didn’t pursue it. He was clearly a B.

It took us about an hour to negotiate a ten minute walk out to the main road in Omkaleshwar after the march around the neighbourhood – Deepak was mobbed like a film star. Earlier during our afternoon walk in the neighbourhood, an elderly man called out to us, identified himself as a Congress functionary. “Hum aapke saath hain” he said. Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka, they are good, he said, but the rest…Yahan party aap ke saath hain, he repeated. (No wonder a reporter friend who met Ajay Rai told us he seemed dispirited. “Dekhen kya hota hai” was all he could offer.)

clothes for gods

Zardozi on clothes for Hindu gods in a small workshop in Omkaleshwar

That day in Banaras (May 1st), AAP teams were doing a couple of different things in the evening – a clean up campaign in a neighbourhood, a music event at a nukkad by Play4Change. People just think of things to do, and carry them out. A report in a newspaper said that AAP has taken permission for more public events than any other party. In fact, apart from BJP caps worn largely by rickshaw drivers, there is hardly any activity that we saw by any other party in the city. We also asked the local people, have any other parties come to you like this? The answer was always no. Clearly, the traditional parties are following traditional ways of preparing for elections – big rallies at which the neta is seen in the distance, the lobbying and buying of sardars who will each mobilize a number of votes, at most a meeting or two with local leaders on stage. Going directly to the people is something only AAP has dared to do.

Talking of netas at a distance – on the afternoon of the second day (May 2), we went to Bachchaon Bazar outside Banaras, from where Kejriwal started a series of small nukkad meetings on the road into Banaras. At each of the small 10-minute meetings, people would come up excitedly to shake his hand, and one even hugged him. Kejriwal seemed taken aback, but smilingly hugged him back.

In the evening, a huge meeting was held, by which time we had come back to Delhi. But you must all have seen the coverage in the newspapers and on television. No? Odd. They were all there, in person at Bachchaon Bazar- Shekhar Gupta, Prannoy Roy, Ravish of course (who has done the only real coverage of the election rather than a Modi campaign), Surjit Singh Bhalla.  Looking impassively at the stage from which Kejriwal was lambasting the Ambanis. How do I know it was a ‘huge’ meeting in the evening? From Facebook.

Benaras 3 May 2

Banaras, May 2, 2014 from Ravi Avasthi’s FB page

At night, in our hotel, we asked our waiter the inevitable question. He beamed at us – “Modi ji, aur koi hai hi nahin”.

So how true was this new media spin – oh-oh, things are changing, there is some support for Kejriwal, but from Muslims. We decided to visit a Hindu neighbourhood that was supportive of AAP, and the next day we accompanied Vipin, a former Congress Councillor from Delhi, to Rajmandir. The AAP point person there, Ghanshyam Singh, had contested as an Independent in the local elections and won.

Is it true that there isn’t much support from Hindus for Kejriwal, we asked. Everybody standing around was incensed. How can you say that, who is saying that, come with us, we’ll show you, they said, and we set off on a couple of hours of meandering around the locality. People who had voted for the kamal, for BSP, for SP, for the Congress – all declaring proudly, is bar chalegi jhaadoo.

We walked into the ‘dhobion ki gali’, and met people there, elsewhere we met people called Yadav and Mishra and Singh – all of them would smile at us and many would make the gesture of sweeping – is baar chalegi jhaadoo.

Someone complains that they saw people in AAP caps in town, selling AAP topis at one rupee each. The volunteers are troubled, but also wondering if it’s BJP trying to discredit AAP. They talk about looking into it. All I could think was – people are willing to buy AAP caps for one rupee? Would they be willing to buy BJP or Congress caps? Do they think this money is going to our party, a party that needs our resources, while other parties buy us off?

Deepak had told us the story of a man cleaning a car in the parking lot of a posh colony in South Delhi, while he was doing door-to-door campaigning for the Delhi elections. The man called out to him, recognizable in the cap he never takes off when outside, and told him he wanted to contribute something to the party. He reached into his pocket and took out ten rupees. As Deepak started to prepare the receipt, he said wait, wait, dug into his pocket and pulled out everything he had – sixteen rupees.

This is so precious, said Deepak, this is bigger than an individual. This is what we must sustain and protect.

shitala mata

Shitala Mata

At the Shitala Mata mandir, Mahant Jagdish Dube, a vocal supporter of AAP, asks us – did we know that Shitala Mata holds a jhaadoo in one hand. The jhaadoo is the symbol of swachhata, cleanliness, and of Lakshmi, because cleanliness brings wealth. The mahants of the Kaal Bhairav mandir are also with AAP, we were told, but we did not meet them.

Meanwhile the morcha had begun around us, with some volunteers from different parts of the country and some local people. Young Kalpana Yadav from this neighbourhood has just finished studying computers, and plans to write the civil service examinations. We met a couple of other civil service aspirants too – an honest bureaucracy in the making? As we move along, in a procession very much like the one in Omkaleshwar, right down to the excited children shouting the same slogans (except that there were women here),  we run into a woman whom Kalpana proudly introduces as her Ma’am. Usha Tiwari has become famous in her neighbourhood for asking a sharp question to the Bhajpais when they came there to do a meeting.

When they declared “Saugandh ram ki khaate hain, mandir vahin banayenge“, (we swear by Ram, we will build the temple there) she asked them – “kya mila? Ram Lalla toh tent mein pade hain na, itne saalon se? Vahan sab kuchh tha, mandir bhi tha, taale bhi khul gaye the, hamari bhi pooja ho rahi thi, unka bhi chal raha tha – kya mila vahan masjid tod ke? Ram Lalla ko bahar kiya na, tent mein?”

What did you gain? You have brought Ram Lalla out, he’s been in a tent all these years. Everything was fine, there was a temple, the locks were open, we could do our pooja, they could carry on too, what did you get by destroying the mosque? You have dragged Ram Lalla outside into a tent!

I was reminded of Varun telling us that Banaras has a long proud history of social movements – this history is what AAP is tapping into.

A dignified elderly gentleman, Madanji, is another pride of the locality. An artist who paints exquisite murals in the small temples around, he has started doing political paintings of corruption being vanquished and so on, which are taken around during campaigns. I asked him if he has ever been politically active before. “Ek zamaane mein communist tha”, he says smiling wistfully, ‘Ab ek muddat se koi judne layak andolan hi nahin mila“. In another age I was a communist. For ages there hasn’t been a movement which I wanted to be part of.

Andolan. Movement. That’s a word used by many of AAP volunteers. This is not a party, it’s a movement. They also often identify insaniyat, humanity, as the core ideology of the party.

Another thing, I heard many of them say – Arvind Kejriwal is not the point. They clearly respect him, love him, but he is not the point. One of them said to a new volunteer – “why are we here? we’re here because we are aam admi, and we’re going to the aam admi. we want to fight corruption and bring in honesty and humanity. Arvind Kejriwal bhi yahan hai, voh apne matlab se aaye honge, lekin yeh andolan unse bada hai.” Kejriwal is also here, he may have his own reasons, but this movement is bigger than Kejriwal.

Later, at the nukkad meeting in Bachchaon Bazar outside Banaras city, I saw this volunteer enthusiastically leading the sloganeering – Bhrashtachaar ka ek hi kaal, Kejriwal, Kejriwal.

AK at Bachhaon bazar

Arvind Kejriwal at Bachchaon Bazar

Back at the Kal Bhairav mandir in Rajmandir, a woman selling flowers waved her hand dismissively at the AAP toli – sab bakvaas hai. Yahan yeh sab nahin chalega. 

One of the volunteers went up to her with a copy of Aap ki Kranti, the party paper. “Padhiye, mataji, Kejriwalji kya kehte hain. Ya kisise padhvaiye. Bhakt ho jayengi aap unki.” Read this, mother, see what Kejriwalji says. Or have someone read it to you. You’ll become his devotee.

When was the last time we heard a politician being advertised for his thoughts?!

Why Kejriwal? We asked again and again. Why AAP?

Imaandari topped the list. Honesty.

Bhrashtachar mitana, of course. But Ikhlaq bhai put it most poetically:

Hum kabootar paalte hain, udti chiriya pehchaante hain. kejriwal kabhi beimaan nahin ho sakta.

I have bred pigeons, I recognize the bird from its flight. Kejriwal can never be dishonest.

For AAP, this is not a battle that will end with the elections. Even the booth managers are meant to be the AAP representatives in their localities after the elections, to play an important role in the swaraj through mohalla sabhas that will emerge, regardless of victory or defeat in the election. The forms for booth managers say this explicitly.

But Deepak also tells us that the process of selecting booth managers has not been carried out with the care it requires, with larger local consultations, because of pressure of elections. AAP activists from Kejriwal onwards, often engage in this kind of critical introspection – a self-criticism of course, picked up sensationally by the media to discredit AAP. But this continuous self-criticism is what could protect AAP from becoming a sclerotic traditional party like all the others.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal declaims from a stage in Banaras – main aap jaise aughad hoon! – and there is a huge roar of approval and laughter. I am aughad like you.

Aughad  is used in Banaras to mean a combination of stubborn and principled, someone who refuses to take things lying down.

Aughad toh hain, ye log! Of that there is no doubt.

130 thoughts on “Two days with AAP in Banaras”

  1. wohooo oo .>>!
    Read the whole article …loved it, enjoyed every word of it … ….
    Lots of Thank you’s for the article ….


  2. ‘Kal Bhairav’ will not allow anyone to represent his constituency none other than Arvind Kejriwal who is his perfect disciple!


  3. I’m tired of seeing Kejrival being on the receiving end of false acquisitions here in Delhi. I wish people heard him tell everyone why he resigned, instead of making the media’s opinion their own.


  4. What an article. As an admirer of AAP and AK, I can’t thank you more for writing this piece. Very encouraging, thanks again.


  5. arvind sir pls ravindra puri campaning kijiye yaha aap supportr bahot hai pura shivala wait kr raha aapka mere nana noor alam shastri aapse mil chuke hai yaha aaiye aap ko full support hai


    1. Bhai, aap khud hi shuru ho sakte hai, apne area mein kisi ko bhi doubt hai AAP pe to unhe poora information dijiye,Sham ko dinner ke bad jake masla solve kijiye, sari batein bataye, hum sabke paas time kum hai, desh sabka hai farz bhi sabka hai. Jai Hind


  6. It gives a clear picture of what is happening in varanasi. Thanks for sharing neutral observations. These wouldn’t have been known from the digital medias. Surprised to see that even rajdeep sardesai is not spared from the media pollution… Other names you mentioned like prannoy roy etc were obvously part of the pollutted groups which were evident for long.


  7. Really Kejriwal is a great honest person who never afraid to confess truth.He is like Mahatma Gandhi.Nation needs such type of brave and honest person.I salute him for his honesty.He is our future PM


  8. A real eye-opener. The media is dishonestly spreading lies and canards about the so-called wave of a smart politician, but the real story is something else. I wish all the best to Kejriwal and the AAP.


    1. The media , in particular the Arnabh Goswamys Times Now, that started all the muck throwing on Kejriwal, after refusal of Bharatis resignation etc. Is a shamed man toady.


  9. Banaras has a life time opportunity to choose the right man in Kejriwal and spread righteousness across the country. Very hopeful they will not be a let down.


  10. No other comments are needed. Bas itnaa hi ki andar hi andar bahut aag hai. Congress and BJP ki Raakh ke beech AAP ki bahut si chingaaria hain. Banaras ke logon se baat karne par pata chalega ki camere ke saamne Modi Modi chillate hain lekin individually kehte hain ki Kejriwal beimaan kabhi nhi ho sakta. CHANGE (Baldlaav) ke liye aur kya chaahiye. A movement coming to boiling point (Ubaal aa raha hai) – that will surprise all political pandits.
    Vande Matram.


  11. Thank you. I have been trying to follow the campaign on the web and was watching/listening to Arvind Kejriwal’s speeches on the AAP Varanasi page, including of couple the nukkad sabhas. I have couple questions for you. I noticed that these meetings began with cries of ‘Har, har Mahadev’. I was wondering whether you noticed this and if you discussed it with the AAP people you met and interacted with, what did they have to say about it? Secondly having being there and seen the context what do you make of this yourself. I think it is important because I have not heard these slogans raised in BJP fora but not really in AAP meetings, not that I have seen many of either though.


  12. Muslims are fully with kejriwal. Not a single muslim vote will go to others. This is making all the parties scared and secretly work with BJP in discrediting AAP.


    1. Yehi paigam Hamara , Duniya Dekhengi ab Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Dalit Sab Ek Ho gaye to Angrej Bhi Bhag Gaye Ab ye Polician ki baari hai. Hum Sab Bhai tabhi Desh Bad lenga .


  13. Brilliant work aap.
    Congress dsnt exist. But You chose that PC to complete n defeat BJP which was most convenient for them. You picked up the gauntlet. You challenged n took the challenge. Win is yours. Ours.


  14. …hats of to the writer ….today after going through the article i personally feel relieved as we get no reliable information from the so called media .After punjab elections we had a curiosity to know what is going on there in ”banaras” .THANKS A LOT…FROM HEART….


  15. GUJARAT DEVELOMENT MODEL???????? First of all everyone saying that development in Gujarat but can anyone point out the things which you call a development? 1. There are none of government office where you can go and you work get done without giving money. Most of the police officer in Gujarat takes bribe. The root of corruption is donation given to any political party, received in BJP Rs. 1649 Cr and Congress Rs 649 (Ref ADR site) which on paper. Black Money we don’t know but we should think after election this fund will be cause of high inflation and corruption to be made via tenders and contacts or Land scams

    2. There is ban on alcohol in Gujarat but still bootlegger selling alcohol. Recent election news, election commission caught Rs. 12 Cr alcohol as this was brought to inflate to votes.

    3. can you tell me how many government colleges Mr. Modi has opened in this 14 years, answer is very few and he gave permission to how many private collages in 14 years and answer is many where you can’t get admission without donation.

    4. The government hospitals are worse in Gujarat. 5. There were 4 RTI activists killed, 8 were assaulted (2 Women) and 9 were Harassed ( 1 women) in Gujarat. Please ref RTI Activists in INDIA article. This is security concern why Gujarat Gov has not given security to these RTI Activists, Gujarat Government is failed to do so. One of RTI Activist was killed to hide truth of illegal coal mining was being done by Adani at GIR. 6. The statue of UNITY project approx. cost Rs. 2500 Cr and The project has been given to foreign companies Turner Construction (consultant of Burj Khalifa), Michael Graves and Associates and Meinhardt Group. Are we not going to give benefit to foreign companies and country? Was it really needed where as our GDP growth has coming lower and CAD (Current Account Deficit) is increasing Year on Year. 7. The electricity for agricultural is less than 12 hours in a day. But still the big industrialists are getting electricity 24*7. One more thing people paying high electricity bill as BJP has received around Rs.50 cr from Torrent power (Please ref. the ADR website) and from Adnani power too. I do not have figure about Adani Power how much funded to Bjp. But fact is Adani Power is funding to BJP large fund.

    8. The people called development are Kakeria and Riverfront which are not development. 9. The development is called where things done by government which makes people’s life better. And tell me the things which Mr. Modi did which had made people’s life better.

    10. Can anyone tell how many farmers had lost their land and their life in last 10 years in Gujarat? I have figure how many farmer lost life in Gujarat during 2012-2013, 564 alone in Gujarat (Please refer the Wikipedia). Guys only 2 percent people in Gujarat had benefited from all the development from Mr. Modi and rest of the people had lose instead of gain from Gujarat development.

    I am from Gujarat and I am not against Mr. Modi but I am asking just simple questions that tell me what is called the development…..In current market the price of houses in Ahmedabad is start from 50 lacks to 10 cr is that any aam people of Gujarat will able to buy that expensive houses? A Land price goes high as given cheaper rate to Godrej, Adani and Reliance because land prices have been increased.

    Please share this Gujarat so call Gujarat Development Model. !! VOTE FOR AAP TO SAVE COUNTRY..!!


      1. The hype created abt so called Gujarat development is a joint venture between the media and BJP. Bechara common man believes whatever is fed to him/her by the media. Both the BJP and also the media understand fully well that nobody is going to check and verify the facts by visiting Gujarat. Somebody who tried to do that like arvind kejriwal he and his associates were attacked,even the CM of the state was too busy to give him a hearing. What is this! When will God grant us the ability to distinguish between the reality and just the propaganda. The political class of the country is misusing the media for spreading misinformation and thus leading the people to believe what is not true. Is this our DESTINY or the cunning handiwork of our exploiters?


  16. Great article!!!! Directly from Ground Zero…a true script of what’s happening there…thank you..


  17. Thanks for the Article. Truth Prevails, I used to think at the start of the movement that Everyone (Politicians, Bureaucrats, Police, Government Employees etc) are corrupt and how can we change this system when there is not system.

    I got the answer later that, Who cares that they are corrupt? We are honest and its us who can do it.

    Aam Aadmi has all the powers to do it. Its the Aam Aadmi who fought battles with the Britishers without weapons and forced them to leave. Inquilab Zindabad


  18. All said and done , AAP is going to be the future activity in India. The new Nara ” inquilabh zindabadh” is being heard again after 60 plus years. This Nara is going to rebound in every streets of India in the coming years. The man who has a dream for India , Mr Kejriwal is going to be the focal point of every debate and discussions in the coming days. If Banaras is won , Kejri is going to ride the crest of popularity and will win the next Delhi elections hands down. And then?. The unleashing of AAPs visions is going across India like never before. If BJP comes or not the next battle of fight will be between AAP and the other part that take the seat in Delhi.. Interesting events are going to unfold soon. And if AAP sticks to ( am sure as long as Kejriwal is there and driving it) it’s principle of clean, corruption free and dynastic free policy of governance, the movement will spread across India soon and ” swaraj will be the next buzz word in everybody’s mind.


  19. This is one of the most articles ever read by me about AAP in Benaras…I have been lived for 9 years in BHU…but I saw the past social movements like ganga clean operation movement, pro-sanskrit movement, Purvanchal movement and many other movements but not such peaceful, progressive and healthy than movement of AAP’s election campaigning is going on. With less money and resources but too much public support is coming without any force. This article reveals the truth of common people in Benaras. I think AAP movement will play in reforming political culture and setting some common acceptable principles of politics and development. Such role should be played by BHU and Ganga’s ghats’ muthades those looting and cheating the common people in the name of Ganga’s belief. The intellectuals of BHU totally failed in the development of city and Ganga’s cleaning.AAP’s movement is broom cleaning the spoiled political and development culture of communal and elite people and their forces.


  20. awe-inspiring, well crafted and expose the real truth of Varanasi. thanks mam. please keep writing, visit again at the close of the election.


  21. Worth reading. Emotional and true from the ground zero. The battle matters, result leave it to people.


  22. Enjoyed reading this article and I do hope honesty and APP wins many seats in India including Banaras and Amethi.


  23. Thank you for the write up. I am presently in USA and trying to follow status of AAP in Banaras and Amethi. Please visit Amethi and write in detail. I pray AK and KV both wins.


  24. Thanks Nivedita for a wonderful article about the true happening of Banaras..Keep doing your honest work,Now a days its hard to find truth through media.




  26. on one hand i have been enthused, motivated, excited,mesmerized,engrossed and full of hope because of AAP andolan… but on the other hand i always wonder whether we as a nation deserve such an honest, selfless and self sacrificing leaders like Kejriwal… in our country even Sita was not spared…..

    But as Arvind says… this time something special is in the air and the miracle will happen.. fingers crossed….

    Thanks for a lovely article, the sort of which i had been longing to read ….for many months now..


  27. It is an exhaustive piece that pieces together tit-bits, scene, mode of campaigning by AAP volunteers, blasting of myth of Muslim and Hindu vote-banks and a calculated endeavor to create a local/ Mohalla leadership–to take up AAP project– by enlisting the polling agents for APP. All this go to build up an ample impression that AAP is doing well to puncher the Modi’s move and his iconic image, orchestrated by the corporate Media in Varanasi and around.

    Unfortunately, nothing of that sort was done during campaigning in Punjab (went to polls on 30th April) where AAP is poised for a remarkable performance—- let us wait for unexpected results on 16th May—. The present AAP leadership in Punjab has, rather, acted as a hindrance and a speed-breaking hump — nay as a spoiler–for the spontaneous upsurge of the people who themselves managed to mobilize the voters to the booths.
    Ruling Akali Dal think-tank, now, admits that the Akali Dal has to contest the coming assembly polls in Punjab against emerging political force of AAP not against the State Congress unit.
    The entire leadership of AAP in Punjab should be removed and replaced with the available honest element, chosen and selected through a rigorous exercise—-a more refined version of what Deepak and other AAP volunteers are doing in Varanasi.

    Caution —– otherwise the Punjab effervescence will fritter away.


  28. I cant tell you how good i am feeling after reading this article !!!! Some media some journalist “Aughad” hote hai, Imaan nahi Bechte !!!!!! :)


  29. Excellent Article. But be careful AAP volunteers. BJP will do everything to rig elections, make false accusations and promote it through paid media and try to discredit AK and AAP at the last minute so that AAP volunteers will not have time to counter it.


  30. As I was just waiting for this article. It is disturbing and sad to watch news channels these days. All are scripted…. Want to say a big thank you.
    This article is true example of fourth pillar of our democracy.
    Jai hind


  31. Very interesting article. I have almost stopped hearing English news in TV. One can easily make out the lies and deceptions of TV reporters. Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnav Goswami, Barkha Dutt and many others are very disappointing. I believe the media is corrupt (some of them may be afraid to report the truth) as much as the most of the politicians and some businessmen.


  32. Gotta say, the way it is written, its just spectacular. Not only bcoz it is only about the AAP but bcoz it also has the inputs from the localities which people don’t come to know through media, although social-media is quite active nowadays but it is restricted to some photographs for the proof.

    All-in-all well written..
    With such kind of lovely support Kejriwal won’t lose from here..


    1. Read the full article… beautifully written and well crafted. Going by the article, and as found pratically, AAP indeed goes by a novel way of advertisement. They would indeed garner some support, but would that be sufficient to second Modi? Secondly, in the fractured clashes of BSP, SP. CONGRESS, numerous independents and AAP, wouldnt, it would bring more of category ‘C’ leople. Even in urbanised,Delhi elections , Modi could sustain traditional voteshare. (And, he has grown much popular in past 6 months or so)Anyways, if he wins, its too soothing for an honest, rising leader and ofcourse for democracy, but if he looses, that will be a loss to grief. Wish your team, and aap supporters a good luck…
      from one of Modi supporter.


  33. Excellent article. Any one who is depending on MSM has a totally different picture of the ground realities.


  34. Thanks for sharing with us the real pulse of Varanasi. It is so appalling to see that none of the major media channels are covering one of the most interesting battles of LS 2014 in Amethi and Varanasi. Am so glad that online journalism coming to the rescue of the otherwise falling fourth pillar !


  35. Nice article mam… Arvind will win definitely ..because i know one thing that..”satya pareshan ho sakta hai parast nahi”
    Jai hind


  36. It is in the innate wisdom and the shared sanskriti ( also known as Ganga- Jamuni sanskriti ) of the common man lies the future of this country. In urban spaces ( not necessarily urban areas , I’d consider any area in this category where anomie exists, where media more than interpersonal links substitute for social interaction ) such profoundness of thought never finds place. I hope Benarasis teach a lesson to Goebbelian mudslingers and totalitarian manipulators for once…


  37. Amazing ground sero report from…. This INQUILAB will remove corrupted and criminal politicians from the Parliament.. “” AGHAAZ ACHCHHA HAI “”…Lagan, himmat aur jazba.. yeh toofaan BJP aur COGRESS ki buniyaadon ko hila dega…


  38. Excellent article indeed providing us the clear pictusque of Ground Zero indeed. Otherwise the most corrupt and useless reporter like Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Pranoy Roy, Rajat Gupta are just potraying Modi as the GOD Father of India and its clearly visible these days how paid media works and especially these english news channel.. Feeling ashamed and Sad of the fact to be in a place where we dont have a single unbiased news channel..


  39. Excellent report.
    I was really curious to know about the ground reality in varanasi.
    Great .
    Hopefully aap pulls through in varanasi . best wishes from Punjab.
    Trust wise people of kashi to rise above caste n religion to change our country for better.


  40. I am surprised that all the comments are praising AAP and kejriwal and not a single comment contesting the opinions and facts presented in here, which in itself is impossible considering the fact that this is such a hotly contested election. Who says that AAP does not media manage the show. this article is almost a proof a of that


    1. So basically you are surprised that this forum is not full of the kind of filth and abuse that you are used to seeing on other media websites’ comments section. You know very well who these people are. The moderators here have chosen to keep the trollers at bay. And I know for sure (having followed kafila for a long time) that if anyone who wants to contest the ‘facts’ presented here can do that without much difficulty.


      1. So how come this comment has been allowed along with the one you responded to if what you say is accurate. It is OK to grow up, but like everyone else, you have a right not to…


  41. Good report from ground zero in Banaras. But a column in Deccan Chronicle a couple of days ago said that the contest between Kejriwal and Rai (congress) is for the second and third spots, as Modi is assured to get Spot1 with a big margin. It quoted that Rai’s Bhumihar caste and Ansari’s endorsement of Rai (among Muslims) will increase Rai’s votes. Your report did not forecast any ranking based on your grassroots information. Any guess?


  42. My faith in journalism survives to see yet another day!!! Great stuff – I rarely read a full article, but this was so sincere, that I can even smell the paan. Just a tad sad that I can’t be there. Feel very joyous as something occured to me just a few hours ago. It is that Game theory would predict that Kejriwal will win from Varanasi!!! If Kejriwal wins the First time, then no issues – no re-elections. If Modi wins the first time, then because Modi is also standing from Gujarat, he will relinquish his seat from Varanasi, causing fresh elections. Kejriwal will fight again from Varanasi and win because Modi will be called a Bhagoda (the boomerang principle) by the media and the people of Varanasi would have felt betrayed. So Kejriwal will win Varanasi in the first round or the second round. Continuing from game theory, if BJP understands this (in my opinion, they won’t), they may decide to relinquish Modi’s seat from Gujarat instead and hold on to Varanasi, to limit the AAPification of India. In that case, Kejriwal will fight from Vadodra and win, as the locals in Vadodra would have felt betrayed by Modi. Thanking you again for an awesome article, I’m just so freaking excited…


  43. Good to read an AAP tard’s dream. I hope everything will be ok come may 16th, when you wake up.


  44. wow..very good article, after every line i read force me to read another..
    its good to see that people’s r understanding AAP
    with hope they deserve our best support..

    A solute to mr. Arvind Kejriwal and ofcource writer


  45. Benaras voters can judge very well what is needed to the country now.
    Even if destiny takes Modi to PM seat, through Vadodara; AK is required to be in parliament in opposition through Benaras. With AK in parliament, there will be a constant “CHECK” to all the wrong being done by any party that comes to power. If we miss that opportunity now, we are not only electing seasoned parties again to power but enabling them to do whatever they like.
    Arvind Kejriwal is a necessity in Parliament to be the only Policeman of the people.


  46. nicely potrayed two days in kanshi. while i was reading ,can see the city ,the lanes ,the ppl,the mahant or u can say the whole banaras was in front of my eyes. i was bored listening to the psephologist talking about the so called modi wave. best wishes ,keep up the good work.


  47. Heartiest thanks to you for coming up with this piece Ma’am. It is simply brilliant. It presents the picture that makes many like us happy and proud specially when a large tribe is out there to make sure that people are devoid of seeing the truth. Congratulations on being an honest and brave voice. Your contribution here is highly appreciated. Jai Hind!!


  48. Alright. I will take your word for it. The corporate TV channels may be lying in favor of Modi. I will give you the benefit of the doubt since you and AAP probably do not have a financial incentive to lie. But come election day, if Modi does win Varanasi, then it will be obvious that either you lied to us, or your sources lied to you, or you lied to yourself and then tried to convince us. One only hopes that someone who is always talking about politics and morality wouldn’t lie to her readers.
    If AK loses but manages a decent showing, with say 25% of the vote, even then I will give you credit for honest reporting.


  49. Your article was a good read. You writing style and English is very good. Enjoyed. But sometimes you should also write truth.


    1. “Write the truth”… Would you care to educate me as to where something false was written in this article.


  50. nice article..dis shows the real ground zero level current of varanasi people….i wish ak will win..


  51. Dear Sir ,
    I’m very happy to say your thoughtful work or way goes makes one great nation to ahead I have to appeal to all should go on take right way to choose Fair person because never get agian so do the right person to right decision .
    Jai Hind Jai Bharat


  52. I am finally able to breath a sigh of relief after reading this article. Watching news on tv is such a pain now days. Thank you for this article! You’re amazing :)


  53. Arvind will most likely lose in Varanasi. But that’s hardly the point. Politics is not a horse race at the race course. What the article describes is the possible beginning of a fightback by the common person of this country. I believe if this campaign were to last for six months, Arvind would win. That’s the important observation for the future. As we (AAP) reach out to this country – and this will take time – there is only one conclusion … people all over will embrace the truth. We just need to stay truthful, pure and committed. Most of the people I meet are in the C category. They will turn A in the times to come.


  54. Absolutely enjoyed reading this piece. The writing was enticing and kept the reader engaged. Conveyed the enthusiasm and battle that AAP volunteers face in Varanasi. I am not a big AAP fan, still the ‘C’ category, but I wish them well and take inspiration from their volunteers – it is not everyday that you feel like quitting your day job to become a volunteer for a risky, socially challenging endeavour. Kudos for reporting and raising the profile of these volunteers.


  55. Dear nivedita Menon ,

    I congratulate you for such a wonderful presentation . Moreover I fall in ‘A’ category ,so I liked it much more. This was wonderful presentation of ground support for AAP , but it is difficult to call it a balanced article as you have not presented any account for BJP or Cong. support. If i go by your article and assume that AAP is going to sweep polls in varanasi , it will be over optimism.

    It is true that AAP is making huge impact in VNS , but the fight is not that easy one national and one local heavyweight are giving a though fight.

    However, this article allowed to take me some relaxed breathe. Thanks for it.

    Mohit Bhor


  56. Why can’t Arvind Kejriwal publicly declare that he is in Varanasi for good.Win or lose,he will not contest the forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections since he is committed to Varanasi now.This may substantially improve his prospects as Narendra Modi is contesting from two places.


    1. Why are we still talking abou AK winning or losing when it should be our responsibility to elect a honest and committed person. If we still want to send corrupt people to represent us, let us stop blaming the politicians and just adapt to a corrupt system. AK is not going to lose anything whether he declares this or that!


  57. I feel a bit encouraged after reading this, otherwise I have my own doubts, not about arvind kejriwal,but about our people,our Janata’ our awaam.I pray to God, if He listens to the aam aadmi’s cries, to enlighten them (the common man) so that they don’t get fooled by the be I man politicians who seek votes in the name of religion/caste etc with the sole objective of looting us, the country’ the aam aadmi. These dishonest politicians can go to any extent for capturing power: lying is their first weapon, snooping is the second, threat is the third, bribing is the fourth and blurring peoples’ judgment by advertising in the print as well as on TV channels. I wonder how much money they have. Their chamchas don’t mind financing these expenses because this is going to be a very lucrative investment for them – they are likely to make one hundred times more money if their chosen party captures power. Finally, I conclude with the prayer: may God bless the people of this country with “SADBUDDHI” so that they can distinguish between the GOOD and the EVIL, and the wisdom to choose the GOOD over the evil. Ameen!


  58. This is a lovely, fresh piece of writing from the ground with an honest and clear eyed view of what is actually happening in many parts of poetic Kashi – both Hindu and Muslim – and neither as well, no doubt. Such a relief from the mostly one sided, dishonest, and clearly purchased (either by money or threat) electronic and print media.


    1. Just to clarify for others with such doubts – Jamal and I went entirely at our own expense to Banaras.


  59. It is indeed refreshing to read your first hand account about AAP. As, the common masses have become tired of listening to media manufactured victory of Modi before votes are polled.


  60. Nivedita

    Thank you for an interesting first had account of your experiences in Varanasi campaigning for #AAP.

    Irrespective of the results, one thing that I admire about the movement and party is that it is providing space to a new generation of young political leaders, who are driven by principals and will to serve, instead of the usual cesspool of college student unions – NSUI and ABVP which for last so many decades have been pools for providing muscle power to the respective parties. The criteria has always been -kiss the right ring in political heirarchy of either party and graduate to a career as professional politician or professional fixer. The issue of principals or right or wrong has never been considered .

    What #AAP and Arvind has done is that they have provided the fertile ground for new kind of politics and made politics a pursuit for “Good ” people instead of an occupation for the “goondas”

    Congratulation and Kudos on a well written article. Lots of people from around the world are walking the streets of Varanasi in essence, with you to see the awakening of the new hope for the country.

    Jai hind and Vande Matram


  61. Mr. Kejriwal is the only politician i believe in.. may not be today but tomorrow he will definately bring some of great changes in our expired and useless constitution.. then every indian will say AAP mahaan ho…


  62. Wonderful article…..may ur evaluation b true and kejrival gets huge support…..applause for ur efforts…..i wanted to b there but m stuck outside india


  63. Fascinating read…Áughad’ truly defines AAP & their volunteers…the movement…In the present context it alone can change the contours of Indian ‘politics’ and can expose the pillars’ of our democracy and their cocktail. ‘


  64. This might be the best thing I have read all week. It connects to a part of me that wants to believe in an India where growth is inclusive and love wins over hate (and money). I hope and believe with all my heart that the AAP is truly the herald of times to come. Thank you for writing this. Inquilab Zindabad.


  65. Loved it!!
    All the paid media has stopped writing or showing any true news about AAP, as they don’t pay them like the corrupt parties like Congress & BJP. But we know that reality will come out sooner or later. This is just the beginning!!
    We look forward to more ground reality news. Keep up the great work Guys!!


  66. Extremely well written article. It gladdens my heart to know that we still have a bunch of free thinking, sensible people around who don’t give in to false propaganda.


  67. Saw the Rajdeep Sardesai programme, indeep he says so. Check at Youtube id – 6DR8h2K_L6Q at 33:15

    (Incidentally, just before the evening morcha in Omkaleshwar, Rajdeep Sardesai was seen in the neighborhood, and some people came up to us muttering angrily. Apparently all those being interviewed were saying is baar sub Kejriwal ko vote de rahe hain, hindu ho ya musulman, (everyone is voting for Kejriwal this time, Hindus and Muslims) but then he turned to the camera and said in English – ‘Muslims are voting for AAP.’ I wondered whether, if a group of Hindus had declared that Muslims are doing this or that, their opinion would have been totally ignored like this. To be fair, I must add that I did not see the final programme.)


  68. Very nice…Much much better than Times Now, India News, etc etc.. Give us the real insight into what actually the ground reality is.


  69. Brilliant ! Feels so good that AAP still has a chance of defeating Modi/Feku/Mass-murderer.
    Modi’s going to be a catastrophe if elected.


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