New Delhi: Among the thousands who thronged the historic Ramlila Maidan for Arvind Kejriwal’s swearing-in were Bollywood actors. Some of them were at the venue on the impulse – something incredibly special was happening out there and they could not simply have been somewhere else; some have been associated with the Aam Aadmi Party from the beginning, lending it moral support. The common thread to their response to the unfolding real-life drama was this: ‘something new is happening in front of us, let’s embrace it’.
“This is beginning of a new era in Indian politics. Gone are the days when elections are used to be contested on money and muscle power,” actor Shekhar Suman told Firstpost.
Talking about the stunning victory of the AAP in Delhi elections, he said, “This is a victory of truth over evil. It is a mandate for honest politics. People were tired of corruption and wanted a change. They want action and fulfilment of their aspirations. Mere lip service is not going to work anymore. It has given a message to our traditional parties that you cannot take your voters for granted. They have an alternative now.”
Adding that he came to witness the oath-taking ceremony on the basis of his “intuition and instinct”, he said, “I came here without any invitation. I came right from my heart. There is no political motivation behind this. I do not even know Arvind Kejriwal personally. But I like his resilience and honesty.”
He said he is delighted with the end of “VIP culture” that privileges politicians, celebrities and other influential people above ordinary citizens. “It was a great experience to park the car far from the venue and walk to reach here without any security,” he said.
Asked if he is planning to join the AAP, he replied in the negative. “No, not again. I am an artist and I would love to keep on entertaining people,” he said. He had unsuccessfully contested 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Patna against Shatrughan Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party on a Congress ticket.
On being told that first Sinha showered praise on Kejriwal and now he is doing the same, Suman laughed and said, “Truth is truth and every sensible person will accept it. When AAP came to power in Delhi, there was a significant change in governance. Kejriwal is someone who genuinely thinks about the country and does not wish to fill his pockets like other politicians.”
Although dancer, comedian and voice actor Javed Jaffrey claimed he came there “not to do politics” but “to change it”, he did not let the opportunity go without criticising the BJP and the Congress. “Both the parties reaped what they sew. We have had enough. It was high time to bring a change in governance,” he told Firstpost.
He admitted that the mandate was “unexpected”. “We were expecting a maximum of 40 seats. But what happened is something divine,” he said.
Actor Ayub Khan said he attended the event because he supported corruption free India. “He (Kejriwal) has touched the most important point, which is corruption,” he said.
When Kejriwal resigned after 49 days in office in 2013, he was dubbed as “bhagoda”. “AAP’s political opponents tried to capitalise the people’s anger against Kejriwal. But they perhaps forgot that the anger was his popularity. People wanted him to govern the city. They were happy and satisfied with his 49-day governance,” he said.
He said the overwhelming majority shows the eagerness of people for a change. “Delhiites were in search of an alternative and the moment they got it, the result is before you,” he added.
Actor Gul Panag, who had contested the Lok Sabha elections on an AAP ticket from Chandigarh, also attended the swearing-in ceremony. “Today, we thank Delhi for its support. Now, it’s our turn to pay back and we will do it,” she told Firstpost in a brief interaction.
Asked about the absence of women ministers in the newly-formed Kejriwal cabinet, she said, “It is just the first cabinet and it’s not that the same will continue for five years. And importantly, the government has several projects meant for safety, welfare and empowerment of women. The government will form bodies and committees to drive the projects. These bodies will surely have representation of competent women legislatures.”
“And don’t forget our Shalimar Bagh MLA Bandana Kumari, who is also AAP women’s wing chief, is likely to be elected as the deputy speaker,” she added. Asked if women in the city can now feel safe in the new dispensation, she said, “Yes, there is no doubt about it. Women safety is our utmost priority. The party has in its manifesto promised suraksha (safety) buttons on mobile phones, a vast CCTV network, street lighting, 5,000 bus marshals, women’s security force and 47 fast-track courts.”
Several personalities in Bollywood are known to be ardent supporters of the AAP. This includes noted music composer Vishal Dadlani, who came up with hit song ‘Paanch Saal Kejriwal’. The song played a crucial role in party’s campaigning. Raghu Ram of ‘MTV Roadies’ fame and actor Ranvir Shorey too are closely associated with the party.
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