08 Feb 2015  |   01:21am IST

Will Goa get a muffler man who coughs?

The man in the muffler, with his trademark cough, isn’t far removed from RK Laxman’s quintessential common man. But Arvind Kejriwal has  taken the common man from being a perennial watcher on the fringes of India’s democracy, and placed him as a centre piece attraction.

And while the all pervasive and powerful Prime Minister, made the real aam admi an awestruck bystander in mesmerized into giving him votes for the Lok Sabha elections; when it comes to Delhi, the muffler man manages to rekindle his connect, in a manner which television veterans or permanent fixtures in Delhi newsrooms cannot fathom. And while the Delhi election results will be out only this Tuesday, Kejriwal will either be Delhi’s next CM or at the very least  a very powerful opposition leader. Either way, he will not be out.

The resurrection of the Aam Aadmi Party, has less to do with the science of strategy and everything to do with the art of being as close to the aspiration and expectations of India’s voters. After the grand victory and coronation of Narendra Modi, as a knight of hope to replace the gloom of India under the Congress, the people of Delhi looked beyond fancy and mind-boggling photo features of Modi in a seven lakh suit or kurta gazing into the eyes of Barrack Obama or making him a cup of tea in the manicured lawns of Hyderabad house. Modi may have got his “friend Barrack” to speak his mind on “Mann ki baat”, but forgot to calculate that the “mann” (mind) of Delhis voters was being made  on issues they confront at home- prices and bills. In 68 years of India being free, it is imprisoned with the same issues, across decades and generations- prices, and the cost of living.  Modi’s rockstar romps across the world, offering visas on arrival and MOU’s hanging like low hanging fruits on investment trees, beamed into homes, was classic entertainment. But so was Sholay or the Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi serial.

Kejriwal and the AAP remained at the doorstep. That’s where they spoke from and not from the radio. And Delhi listened to the man they could actually see.

The big question is, is there a small town, simple living Delhi, which also exists in the world class Delhi, in many small states and towns across India. The answer is obviously yes. It is this small town that is looking for real leaders with extremely simple issues. Narendra Modi may be the master of the 70 MM Dolby digital, but there is space for the man with the chalk and a slate, doing simple math, which tells you how much money you will have, to pay your bills and buy your veggies. India may have given Modi a massive mandate, but it needs the God of small things for its daily bread.

And yes there is a huge lesson for the AAP revival in Goa. Our land is at the crossroads where the big promises of development and change float in the clouds, but close to 30 people mostly very young, surrender their Indian passports daily after they get their Portuguese ones, to leave the land they call home in search of opportunities in education and work. If a government can’t even do enough to make our young ones dream that their futures are secure and bright and make them stay home to better their land, what is the use of big ticket investment opportunities? Most of Goa’s mega investments are for, by and of people from outside. As Goa’s demographics undergoes a massive shift, we need leadership which speaks of the basics of opportunities of growth, education and jobs. The AAP model, not necessarily the AAP itself-  will work in Goa, especially when its bruised people are looking a new door to knock on. That’s clear even in Delhi where the congress may end up with two seats or even less.

Goa has less than two years to look for its muffler man who coughs.


Iddhar Udhar