Fight against corruption is a continuous ordeal and movements such as “India Against Corruption” are rare in India. Anna Hazare led movement brought people of different regions and races together. Whether living in different parts of India or abroad, people joined the movement by protesting through discussions in their local area. Dilip Pandey was one of the rebels who started fasting from his office in Hong Kong and mobilizing the Indian community there. Things changed drastically when he listened to Arvind Kejriwal’s interview where he mentioned ICAC and its role in tackling corruption in Hong Kong (HK). Dilip studied the model and realized that if the model can work in HK, then it can work in India too. Thereafter, he met some individuals in ICAC. This organization works on the three pillars of education and awareness, operation and prevention. He also met with the Head of ICAC, Tony Kwok, and gained his inputs on how to deal with similar problems in India. Dilip relayed all this information to Arvind and his team. Dilip realized that Arvind is a window of solution in a wall of problems and proposed the idea of himself going back to India. He felt that addressing the pain of his fellow citizens in India entails true sense of being an Indian national.

A Return Journey to India

Dilip  wrote an email to Arvind to ask permission for his own involvement in the movement. Arvind agreed with the advice that Dilip will have to take care of his own finances. Dilip doesn’t believe in the adage that “bhagat singh paida ho to doosre ke ghar me ho” (If bhagat singh has to take birth, let that be the neighbor’s house). He emphasizes that a revolutionary has to rise within ourselves. And anna movement provided him that spark to finally set sail on his desire to serve India’s cause. Dilip faced some initial friction from his friends and family regarding his decision to join a movement voluntarily. However, his friends observed his honest intentions and came around to supporting him fully.

In order to optimize his expenses, Dilip sold his car and started driving a two-wheeler. Some friends took charge of his fees, rent, food, clothes etc. Accordingly, his family members have accommodated to his limited means. Dilip feels that these hardships of his are nothing in comparison to those faced by the common man in India.

Dilip Pandey with Saurabh Bhardwaj during Rape Roko movement led by Swati Maliwal

Achievements and Resistance

It was Jan 14, 2012 when Dilip landed on Indian soil to start a new journey. He started working with the movement by engaging in different activities. Post movement, AAP was born. Dilip has been continuously working with the party in different roles such as Delhi state convenor, party spokesperson, campaign manager etc. Within a short time, he has seen tremendous changes in AAP’s functioning and achievements in the state. He remembers his childhood days where he finished his schooling under a tree with few other students exposed to all kinds of weather conditions. Now, he feels proud to witness well-established government schools, international visitors including UN representatives who want to learn more about the mohalla clinic and government schools in Delhi.

In gaining all these accolades, AAP definitely had its fair share of opposition from central government which piled up unsubstantial cases against Arvind and his team members. Still, the passion for serving the nation made them recuperate from all these roadblocks pretty soon. Dilip also pointed out a very interesting part of working with AAP that everyone has a primary responsibility but there is no defined secondary role. He started as a receptionist with AAP but also worked on messaging, event management, communication, election campaigning (2013-2015) over time.

Dilip Pandey with other members of AAP and international guests at Constitution Club of India

Skills and Responsibilities in AAP

Normally, within the party, people get assigned to a job in which they excel. A saying “jo bole so kunda khole” (whosoever speaks up, opens the lock), runs the machinery inside AAP. Dilip has good oration skills and that’s how he was handed the responsibility of party spokesperson. During 2015 elections, he was party co-convener and in charge of 35 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Delhi. AAP won on all those seats. After that, he became convener along with president and spokesperson of the party. Now he is also in-charge of north-east constituency and a member of art and culture department of Delhi government.

Return of the Aam Aadmi Party

Dilip points out that forming government in 2015 elections was especially hard for AAP because not only they were defeated badly in the 2014 year parliamentary elections but they also had several negative labels attached to them. Nonetheless, when AAP won, it was a very rough ride to take care of a deformed state with a constant fear that how votes will be bagged in case of underperformance. Still an opinion floats around that AAP is only a regional party. However, the fact that AAP brought many concerns of India that were previously lying on the circumference to the forefront, says a lot about its efficacy as a party.

Adopting Systematic Changes

AAP has also introduced changes for the better in some systemic processes. For example, candidate selection based on a survey of character, criminal record, and communal accord of the individual was effectively implemented by AAP. In the process, party learned to execute practical instead of paper politics while also not compromising with its core principles. According to Dilip, AAP has developed an invisible churning mechanism due to which individuals with limited patience are filtered out of the party. All these critical changes within AAP have helped in crediting it on a national level as the most clean and transparent party with an efficient governance model that delivers on its promises.

Make India First

Every political party in India makes promises during election campaigns which are related to employment. Instead of the much hyped “Make in India” campaign, AAP promotes the “Make India First” slogan. This campaign focuses on creating a conducive environment for potential entrepreneurs. Government schools in Delhi have introduced a unique entrepreneurship curriculum (starting Aug 2019) to set the pre-requisites and promote job-creators instead of job-seekers. Although there has been a gradual decline in the prospects of Delhi as a trading hub due to raid system and “inspector-raj”, AAP is trying to revive the state to its former glory and make it a more business-friendly region.

Changing North-East Delhi: Constituency of Dilip Pandey

Apart from national initiatives, Dilip has some ideas on his individual responsibilities in his constituency in North-East Delhi. Even though the constituency is part of NCT Delhi, its residents do not feel themselves to be a part of Delhi. Roads are in bad shape, transport connectivity is poor and business opportunities are lacking in the area. People can be heard saying “they are going to Delhi” without realizing that they are already in Delhi. After repeated efforts, Signature Bridge was inaugurated on schedule and Pink Line metro started. Phase-IV of Delhi metro has already began and two other major flyovers are proposed to be built to decongest traffic in the area.

Notwithstanding the funding for all the developmental projects, AAP struggles with its own party funding. National parties such as Congress and BJP flourish on the riches of its candidates, but a people’s party such as AAP lags behind in this respect. Still, AAP hopes to win the race between zeal and money.

Perception, Patience and Emotion

For upcoming elections, Dilip says that it is humanly impossible to recreate the same level of excitement as 2013 AAP campaigning. However, full energy is being spent on door to door campaigning. All arguments in favor of AAP winning the next round of elections are being prepared. In his own constituency, all materials are crowd-sourced. At the end, every politician is gauged on the basis of their “perception” and “patience”. In the case of AAP, its perception for its beneficiaries inside Delhi and people living outside Delhi is different. To reach the masses, mass media or social media is used. But the scope of social media is very limited. As such, perception management for AAP has been challenging where they find it hard to uncover the truth beneath the lies imposed on them by the opposition. Efforts have been ongoing to develop an Information Management System (IMS) where answers to relevant questions in the form of text, audio and video can be presented.

Dilip Pandey with other members performing in an old age home

Dilip notes that emotions are a necessary part of being human. A person commits less mistakes and empathize with the pains of other human beings if they are sensitive themselves. Dilip, himself, engages in a NGO “Music fall” and a band “The Fakir café”. Once a month, away from lenses and flashes, they play music for an hour or two for people who have lost all hopes including those in orphanages, old age homes etc. He even sang for a patriotic music album called “Man Samarpit” which is available on iTunes and Hungama. Dilip is also a poet and a writer. His recent book with Chanchal Sharma was launched in Jan 2018. Following books are written by Dilip.

Watch complete video of AAP Ka Radio call with Dilip Pandey.

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