Reflections on Aam Aadmi (Mango People) at Jantar Mantar

  Asit Das

Discovering the tragedy and farce of ‘aam aadmi’ at Jantar Mantar on 26.11.2012.

In the campaign for 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Congress coined the term ‘aam aadmi’ to garner votes, and hoodwink the people for another five-year term to faithfully serve international finance capital through their most loyal puppet Manmohan Singh. After that over the years, the term ‘aam aadmi’ is projected by every party and aspiring politicians like Arvind Kejriwal. Like the term professional revolutionary, the term ‘aam aadmi’ has become a football for political ambition. Anyone can kick it for media bites; while on the other hand the ‘aam aadmi’ is minute by minute crushed by the neoliberal offensive.

Jantar Mantar in Delhi is witness to many protests – both fake and genuine, for different causes of the ‘aam aadmi’. Jantar Mantar is also the exhibition ground for NGO activism. Their ambience, style and politics is not much different from a corporate sector gatherings. The class three and four NGO employees come to the venue an hour earlier to distribute parchas, and put up the pandal. The NGO bosses arrive late due to their packed schedule, which is only understood by the donor agencies.

Also at Jantar Mantar, star struck, MSW-trained (development professionals) middle level late teen and early middle age functionaries get their PR and socialising spot, they gossip a little bit about the government, politics, adivasis, maoism and interpersonal problems, then crowd around the tea shops. After that, they go back to their well-furnished offices along with their laptops. Their offices work day and night for the marginalised dishing out reports, press releases, etc., thanks to liberal funding in the name of ‘for marginalised Aam aadmi’. Hot topics for funding are displacement, human rights, adivasis, farmer, women and dalits. Long live the ‘aam aadmi’.

Today is an interesting day at Jantar Mantar because Arvind Kejriwal his launching is Aam Aadmi Party. There is a strange twist into the name of Aam Aadmi Party. Yesterday Congress Gen. secretary Digvijay Singh alleged that Arvind Kejriwal stole the name ‘Aam Aadmi’ from Congress. Today, at the Dr Sunilam venue, I read the document from an activist’s group that they have already registered a party with the election commission, I don’t know whethe Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party will land up in copyrights violation litigation. Personally, I feel the name ‘Aam Aadmi’ Party is gender biased because it names only the ‘Aam Aadmi’ (man) not Aurat (woman). Today the term ‘aam aadmi’ has Made Jantar Mantar into a colorful carnival. As soon as I entered Jantar Mantar from the south (women press corps) side, first I saw a massive rally of project workers by the left trade union CITU. After that, I saw a large tent of Indian justice party led or Uditraj demanding reservation for SC/ST employees. Right in front of our protest tent where we were protesting against the arrest of Dayamni Barala and Dr Sunilam, I saw a well-furnished tent of executives (owners of security equipment supplied the Government). They were demanding tax exemption from the procurement security equipment such that they on make more profits. They were all in three-piece suits, finding it difficult to formulate and shout slogans. Then I finally encountered the  (Arvind Kejriwal) ‘aam aadmi’ at Parliament Street where he was launching his new Aam Aadmi Party.

In the era of “patent wars”, Arvind Kejriwal is smart enough to snatch the term ‘aam aadmi’ for himself and launch his party – thanks to the liberal funding by Ford Foundation for the Kabir foundation’. I am still confused how to differentiate between Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘aam aadmi’ and Robert Vadra’s ‘mango people’, I am so confused that personally feel myself that I can at best be a mango pickle!





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