The target is 280 Lok Sabha seats, and the hope is to end politics of nepotism and show-off. These were key takeaways as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held its first convention in Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon.
Visibly buoyed by the party's success in Delhi assembly elections that has led to it forming the government, AAP's national executive member Yogendra Yadav said Delhi was "just a trailer" and "the country's picture will change once 280 Lok Sabha members from AAP will be sent to Parliament by the people". Those many seats would mean a clear majority, eight more than the halfway mark of 272.
Lead speaker at the convention, Yadav said people from different strata turning up - the attendance was a 3,000-odd - was an indication of change in Chandigarh. "In the past, city residents were not found taking much interest in political rallies. Those who came sat only on chairs then. Today, I see people sitting on a mat," Yadav said, exhorting the public not to follow politicians but to make politicians follow them.
Recalling his days in Chandigarh, when he was studying at Panjab University, he said the city used to have a culture of "shoshebaji (show-off)": "After living for while in Sector 11, I shifted to Dadumajra."
He was seen being surrounded, even chased, by a number of people seeking the Lok Sabha poll for the lone seat in the UT. Referring to them, he quipped: "You will get tickets at railway stations, not here."
Though he did not name any leaders from the city, Yadav made some direct references to the region's political families, and criticised nepotism, saying that while most other parties were being run by clans, "AAP has made provisions in its constitution that only one family member can become an office-bearer". "In Punjab, we have Badal and sons; in Haryana, Bansi Lal and sons, Chautala and sons and… in Congress, it is Gandhi, son and daughter-in-law," he quipped.
Earlier, he praised the AAP's Delhi government led by Arvind Kejriwal which, Yadav said, was probably the first government that had taken up issues like water on its maiden day in office. "People of Delhi were being harassed and were fed up with the lofty promises of the (past) government," he said, adding that AAP had come to power as others had failed to perform. While referring to politics over government formation in Delhi with Congress's outside support, Yadav said it was the first time that those who were being offered support (AAP) had put conditions before the parties (Congress and BJP) for extending support. "Delhi's results are a ray of hope. We were second in Delhi (28 seats against BJP's 32), but everyone was talking about AAP. It was because the common man felt that he also has some status," the 50-year-old academician-turned-politician said.
Earlier, Yadav reached around half an hour after the scheduled 2.30pm at the Sector-25 rally ground, having made a stopover in Panchkula; but then he sat among the public, leaving the stage empty. As soon as he reached the stage, a number of workers rushed to seats beside him. Volunteers had to make a human chain to avoid commotion. Then Yadav exhorted volunteers to leave the stage and allow him to sit among the people.
In his speech, too, he exhorted volunteers to shun limelight and said, "Volunteers are those who do not sit around the stage but work behind the stage." His 40-minute speech delivered in Hindi was interrupted frequently by sloganeering by enthusiastic workers. When a worker shouted a slogan in his favour, Yadav politely asked him not to do that again.
He talked about measures being taken by AAP to clean up politics and keep tainted leaders at bay, and said politics could become a medium of faith and AAP had made people realise that.
At the end of his speech, Yadav called on the stage a girl and told the people to "vote for change, vote for AAP, at least for the sake of the next generation".