New Delhi: Sunder Nagri is an urban village in the North East district of the capital. It is a typical village — the houses have come up in haphazard manner, narrow lanes criss-cross the village, the main roads have a fresh feel of tar and there are no multi-brand outlets. Indeed, more than three decades after it was founded by Indira Gandhi, the colony is playing catch up to the rest of the city.
On Saturday, the colony’s F-block sported a festive look. It was decked up to host Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal. The tents were in place as was the matting and the chairs.
Ranjeet Singh, a tailor with a garment shop in Shahadara area, took time off from work to accommodate Kejriwal, who will stay put at Singh’s house during his indefinite fast which began today. The objective of the fast is to mobilise masses on the hike in water and power tariff before Delhi assembly polls, AAP has said.
Singh makes around Rs 4,000 per month. His wife gets “something less than Rs 6,000 a month” for working with an NGO. Their daughter, Santosh, has been working with Kejriwal since he founded the ‘Parivartan’ organisation in the area in 2002.
With a population of around two lakh, Sunder Nagri falls in Seemapuri assembly constituency, a Congress bastion. Now… that might change.
“We used to vote for the Congress. But this time no Congress or BJP. They are all same. Kejriwal symbolises hope,” said Singh, showing the Rs 5,228 water tariff he had to pay by taking a loan from his employer. “The entire area has been facing the issues he has raised.”
Critics say that Kejriwal abandoned ‘Parivartan’ which got him Magasaysay award, after his focus shifted to RTIs and the Jan Lokpal Bill. Santosh, one of the two employees in the organisation, said the criticism was unfair. “It’s not that work has stopped totally. We are working on systemic changes. It takes time. There are NGOs working for two-three decades. What change have they brought?”
The hike in water and power tariff is AAP’s poll plank for assembly elections scheduled later this year.
Many aggrieved citizens were present at the fast venue on Saturday. “After talking to these people, I believe in the days to come, families will have to divert all their expenses in paying water and power bills,” said Kejriwal.
During Kejriwal’s fast, AAP volunteers will ask Delhi residents not to pay their water and power bills. They will be asked to sign an undertaking for the same.
Kejriwal said that he would end his fast when he sees a significant number of people supporting his boycott. He warned his supporters not to fake signatures. “If I find someone doing fake signatures to inflate the number of supporters, I will add two more days to my fast,” he said.