Jarnail Singh on a mission to win back upset AAP supporters

Jarnail Singh on a mission to win back upset AAP supporters

It is not only smiles and assurances by voters as AAP candidate from West Delhi Jarnail Singh goes about campaigning from door to door in the area on Wednesday. 

On almost every street, he and his supporters are facing some disgruntled voters who claimed to have elected the party in the Delhi state Assembly elections, but were unsatisfied by the performance. But Singh and others appear to have come prepared. 

Those who appear visibly angry or unhappy, the party members stop for a minute to explain his party’s position. For those who do not persist with their complaints, pamphlets answering their questions are handed out.

“We gave you free water and cheap electricity as promised. Just give us another chance,” Singh tells an elderly woman, Shobha, in Mahavir Enclave. Another volunteer takes over from him and hears out her complaints regarding no change in the condition of roads and drains in the area.

She is unsatisfied. The volunteer tries to put a party cap on her head, she removes it. Several neighbours gather around her to persuade her. 

On another street, some party workers pay no heed to a youth who suddenly begins talking in favour of Modi. One stops to begin a debate with him.

Busy day

The campaigning began at 9 am from Matiala and moved on to Janakpuri and Mahavir Enclave. “Unlike other candidates, I will try to visit every locality in my constituency. I am making use of the one-month head start I have got over other parties,” Singh said.

He is known for throwing a shoe at Union Minister P Chidambaram in 2009 as a mark of protest against the Congress’ alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The long hours of walking from house to house appear to take a physical toll on Singh and others as he waves at closed doors of houses and supporters shout slogans looking at empty balconies. 

But the slogans are engineered to pull out voters from inside their houses. A resident of Lajpat Nagar, Singh, also a former journalist, shifted his base to west Delhi’s Hari Nagar after filing his nomination. 
But that will impact neither his chances nor his understanding of the problems of the constituency.

‘My karma bhoomi’

“West Delhi is my karma bhoomi. I have held many protests in this area. My sister and in-laws live here,” he said.

In any case, local volunteers guide him at every step, pointing out the influential people and those who have worked for the party. 

“This is Ram Kumar. He only advocates about the party to gatherers at the shop,” volunteer Ajay Rajpoot told Singh, pointing to a paan shop in the area. The campaign is halted for a brief while a TV channel wants to interview him. Singh is cautious about how he is portrayed. He calls the AAP’s Vidhan Sabha candidate from Janakpuri to stand by his side before the camera rolls. 

Just before the interview is to begin, he approaches the reporter and whispers in his ears the words in which he must be introduced to viewers.

Generally soft-spoken and a man of few words, Singh is not miserly or mild when it comes to Congress’ alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots. “It was not a riot. It was a Congress-sponsored terrorism, a massacre, an effort at ethnic cleansing,” he said.

Party workers continue with sloganeering. “Paise pe na daaroo pe, button dabao jhaadoo pe (not on cash or alcohol, press the button on broom)”. 

A woman volunteer tells the sloganeer, “Don’t confuse between the pronunciation of jhaadoo and daaroo”.