Snapshots from Arvind Kejriwal’s hunger strike in Delhi
“Ankush, should we pay the electricity bill? The secretary of our apartments has advised us against it.” That was my mother’s question to me as I was leaving for Arvind Kejriwal’s fast venue in Delhi’s northeast corner, Dilshad Garden.
While I won’t be among those who refuse to pay electricity bills, Kejriwal’s supporters said hundreds of thousands of city residents had signed a pledge saying they would not pay their bills to the state.
Kejriwal said people should not pay because he says residents of Delhi are paying twice the amount they should be paying and began a hunger strike on March 23 against inflated bills.
The number of people who stuck around with Kejriwal as he entered the 13th day of his hunger strike was quite small. Here are some photos from Sunder Nagri, close to the Dilshad Garden Metro station.
A handful of Kejriwal’s volunteers, wearing the oft-used white Gandhian cap, sat idle.
A vacant stage with children playing gave a sense of a no-show as the fasting activist rested in a flat next door with his parents.
Residents of the area lined up outside the flat for a look at the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, who has lost several kilos since he began fasting on March 23, according to his doctor.
Outside, the sight of the two camera tripods next to Kejriwal’s poster personified the debate over the media’s coverage of the event. There was no beeline of satellite vans as there has been in past hunger strikes, and there were no excited TV reporters or shows being broadcast live.
As a sleep-inducing, warm afternoon passed, crowds gathered for a glimpse of the man. They sat in the pandal, like anxious devotees, as religious and patriotic songs blared intermittently in the background.
What followed was a haphazard mix of pep talk — the speaker moved from Hindu-Muslim unity to corruption to Sheila Dikshit government bashing to “inflated” power and water bills; clamours of “break your fast” (to Kejriwal); and vocal performances. The usually vociferous Kejriwal rested on stage, unaccompanied by celebrities and unable to put enough pressure on the Delhi government.
Is Kejriwal on the right track? Will he bring change? Should the media report the fast in a different way than it is doing now?
In the hustle and bustle of the hunger strike, I spotted a boy playing with a newspaper and microphone on the stage, oblivious to the politics of his surroundings.