Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner came alive with a throwback to one of the largest movements Indian democracy has seen since independence; the mad righteous frenzy whipped up by the Aam Aadmi party in 2011 to end corruption from politics.
Present at the bookstore, were authors Mayank Gandhi, one of the chief architects of AAP and co-author Shrey Shah, with their book ‘AAP &Down’, published by Simon & Schuster India, presenting an insiders story of the rise and dismantling of a party that captured the nations imagination, but failed to truly capitalise on it. Veteran journalist Nikhil Wagle was present to moderate a conversation and launch the book.
Largely intense and serious, the book has its lighter moments too, making it an engaging, fast read. For eg; Statements such as ‘the only reason India is poor is because we eat paani-puri,’ or the rhetorical question
Q: How many Indians does it take to change a light bulb
Ans: 500. 1 to change the bulb, 49 to stand and watch, 50 to make suggestions and 400 to tell him it cant be done, mark the initial pages of the book. Mayank Gandhi reveals at the very beginning of his book, that he had known Arvind Kejriwal since 2003, due to his work with Anna Hazare for the passing of Maharashtra RTI.
From tales of Anna Hazare leading the charge, to a candid assessment of Arvind Kejriwal, the current CM of Delhi after a landslide victory in Feb 2015, the book chronicles an important period of recent Indian history. Upto his eventual resignation in November 2015, Mayank Gandhi shares his view of the evolution of AAP as a party, throwing in heady doses of disdain for personality driven politics, high command approach and other things he experienced. This reaches a crescendo with his question
“How did a man, who was once my hero- become the most disliked Indian?”
He ends the book with a description of his current work at Global Parli, with a hope that he will be a part of fulfilling India’s destiny again.
Speaking at the launch, Mayank Gandhi said, "There have been thousands of books written on independence struggle but nobody sat down and documented this history. I felt as an ex insider that it was my duty to put before history and people what was happening”.
"There is a spark inside every youth that this is my country and these are my people. I want to serve the people. There was a dream of a corruption-free India and those days. This passion for serving the country was one of the major reason for me getting involved" said Shrey Shah, co-author.
The book launch saw intense discussions matched by eager listeners of Indian political intrigue. Nikhil Wagle remarked, "I think this is an important book because this is a documentation of the decline of a political party in India. This party once upon a time was an idealistic party. I suppose Mayankbhai has written in this book about how the dream collapsed and crumbled".
As a final salvo, Mayank Gandhi revealed that he got a call from Narendra Modi's office and Rahul Gandhi's office after quitting AAP to join politics, but by then he had lost interest in politics.
Welcoming the community engagement seen during the launch, a Crossword Bookstores' spokesperson added, "The future we have envisaged for Crossword as a melting pot for conversations relevant to the community, is here. Todays book launch is proof of that."