Since we were leveraging all channels to get our message across, I told Arvind, ‘We need a revamped website and a party newsletter which can be distributed to people of Delhi.’ Arvind connected me with his architect-friend Satyender Jain and his website designer.
I met Satyendra Jain in a restaurant, and he immediately offered to fund the newsletter every month. However, when he suggested giving me cash, I grew uncomfortable. I spoke to Arvind, and he suggested that Satyendra Jain could directly pay the printer of the newsletter every month. That is how AAP Ki Kranti, the party’s newsletter, was born. Simultaneously, I worked on restructuring the website, so as to make it easy to navigate, and so it became attractive and effective.
During this time, Arvind also asked me to take charge of training and monitoring seven of AAP’s candidates, including Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bhardwaj and Shazia Ilmi. Working with both Somnath and Saurabh proved to be an enriching experience.
Somnath was a lawyer and was passionate about the movement. He had a huge sofachair in his office on which he’d sit like a king, surrounded by his small team. As soon as we were introduced to each other, Somnath said, ‘Mayankji, I have a wonderful strategy for the election.’
‘What is that?’
Somnath continued, highly excited, ‘I want to make a computer game!’
I was taken aback.
He continued, ‘In this game, AAP volunteers will be wearing caps and hiding behind trees . . . and when the time is right, they’ll come out and shoot the Congress and the BJP.’
I grew anxious.
‘I will give this game free of charge to the students, and after they play it, people will be certain to vote for us.’
I sat in stunned silence.
Thankfully, the idea died a natural death.
My brief interaction with Somanth made it clear that we were still novices making sense of mainstream politics. But what we did have was enthusiasm. Somnath was hardworking, sincere, popular in his constituency, and willing to fight for the party’s core principles—this would hold him, and us, in good stead.
While Somnath was flamboyant, Saurabh was entirely the opposite. He was a soft-spoken engineer who had quit his job. To me, he was the ideal candidate, and I was glad that after his victory he became a minister in the Delhi Government. We used to interact every day, and I enjoyed guiding him.
As for Shazia, she was one of the most aggressive and combative candidates. She sought attention and resources for herself—possibly because she was in a tough constituency. It was unfortunate that she lost by few votes.