(Arvind Kejriwal is former Chief Minister of Delhi and Convener of the Aam Aadmi Party.)
About a year ago, thousands of young men and women in Delhi began something they had not done before. They sat around dinner tables, discussing and debating politics with their family members. People in Delhi have always debated politics, but this time it was different. This time they stuck their necks out- vouching for a new political party, often writing out cheques with their hard-earned money.
A few months later, this very group had to face the embarrassment of hearing friends and loved ones say: "See, we told you so." Many people across Delhi feel that our actions have let them down. In May this year,we apologised to the people of Delhi for the disappointment caused; and in case you missed it the first time, I do so again - so you hear us loud and clear.
AAP was a breath of fresh air with clean funding and the promise of clean and sincere governance. We did not lie, and we did not steal. However, I acknowledge that people were still hurt by our actions, because what AAP represents is bigger than all of us. People felt hurt that they invested so much of themselves in a party and movement that was seen to have walked away.
It's also a commonly-held belief that I gave up the Chief Minister's chair in Delhi to fight the Lok Sabha election and become Prime Minister. I didn't.
I requested a fresh election for Delhi the very moment I resigned. Inspite of being a minority government, our approval ratings were 71%. But the Delhi election never came. In hindsight, perhaps we were too trusting. It was a mistake, an honest mistake; but a mistake all the same. Fortunately, the windscreen is greater than the rear view mirror. After all, if the people give us the full mandate to govern, they will rightly expect us to lead with patience and savvy. As someone recently said, it's what we can do as a party of Delhi for the people of Delhi that's important - we acknowledge this and we do take it very seriously.
AAP means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it's a force that can combat cronyism and finally allow people to do business. To others, it represents a change from communal and sectarian ideologies. To most, it's a chance to enjoy the rights, freedoms, and safeguards that our constitution bestows upon us. We took the opportunity to represent some of these broader issues in the last election: the right to do business without hafta, and the need to protect the country from open theft of precious national resources.
We all want the same things: a stable and responsive government, a bribe-free business climate, the chance to make an honest living, to see one's children have a better life, and finally, the simple assurance that we are safe and secure.
AAP or no AAP, Kejriwal or no Kejriwal, these are ideals that we all cherish. These are ideals that will never lose steam. AAP has survived many challenges and surmounted great obstacles because we have worked as a team and as a family. This family cuts across all economic and social boundaries. We are the people of Delhi, we understand how to solve its problems, and we understand that the people of this city want to feel like their government works for them.
We understand the people want us to work constructively with the central government. We understand Delhi's government must be both honest and stable, a government ready on Day One to build a globally-competitive Delhi, a government that has its ear to the ground, in tune with the diverse needs of its people.
We have a vision to turn Delhi into India's first bribe-free investment destination, a global hub for start-ups, services, and high-tech manufacturing. Delhi will set new standards in business growth, healthcare, education, and women's safety. This is not achievable overnight, but, with expert advice, clean intentions, and a commitment to work together - even with people that disagree with us - it is where we start. The reality is that whatever our differences, we are all in this together. We can achieve this step by step. Let's come together once again in Delhi.
As I seek your blessings in the coming election, please know that I believe stability first starts within, by staying the course, and being honest with the people you hope to serve. Taking lessons from the past only strengthens our ability to deliver on our vision of a truly world-class city. We look ahead with clear eyes and full hearts, filled with a sense of purpose, ready for the task at hand.
Before I end, I want to express my deep gratitude for the kindness and support you have shown to the thousands of volunteers who continue to put their busy lives aside. They come seeking to convince people that it is possible for a party of the city to win an election with clean funding. Not a day goes by where I am not grateful to you for continuing to open your homes to us and for giving us your thoughts and blessings.
We often tell young people they are the leaders of tomorrow, but I disagree.
Their strength is needed in India today. They are here right now, as we are. It's our burden to bear; it's our responsibility to share. Our time is now.
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