An article published by Mr Kapil Bajaj about his days working with Kejriwal recently has sent tremors in AAP and become a major talking point in the political class.
Kapil Bajaj, a former colleague of Kejriwal who had been a very close associate of Kejriwal during 2008 -2009 when they were working on empowering gram sabhas and local self government has revealed what he saw in a room that made him part his ways from Kejriwal.
Kapil Bajaj, who was working as journalist in Business Today Magazine first met Kejriwal in 2007 for an article. Kapil Bajaj also got an opportunity to travel to Madhya Pradesh with Kejriwal and his two young colleagues who mostly used to accompany Kejriwal all time. Kejriwal was invited as a jury member for public hearing on resettlement of people displaced by Sardar Sarovar Dam, started by Medha Patkar. Anothre jury was Anna Hazare!
The talk against corruption and empowering gram sabhas by Kejriwal inspired Kapil bajaj to such extent that he got involved in Kejriwal’s team very soon. The repeated chants by Kejriwal to change the system and solution to corruption inspired Bajaj a lot.
His association with NGOs and social activists in Kejriwal’s team motivated Bajaj to quit his good job in Business Today and join as a volunteer in Kejriwal’s team. Mr. Bajaj became part of Kejriwal’s team in October 2008 which included Manish Sisodia, who also ran an NGO “Kabir”, lawyer Divyajyoti Jaipuriar, a young woman called Santosh (No more) from Delhi.
The main objective of Kejriwal was to explore good Panchayat models across few states and start a project on Local Self Government. He received funds from US based charity organizations called India Friends Association (IFA) and India’s Development (AID). Kejriwal and his close young friend Shilpa (name changed) were the only people who dealt money matters. They were known to each other since the time Kejriwal started his social activities in Delhi.
Bajaj knew about the lady well as she was the same person who had accompanied him and Kejriwal to Madhya Pradesh. She was informally close to Kejriwal who was 16 years older to her and playfully called him by nickname “Aloo” (potato). This also had raised many questions among the volunteers.
A time came in 2008 November when the team along with Bajaj, Shilpa and Somu Kumar (AID Volunteer) had to visit Kerala to study some of the gram panchayat models. It was a loosely schedule with no time bound stay. With the help of a local NGO, they visited Palakkad district, village called Eruthenpathy in Kannadi where they stayed for over 10-12 days where they studied different models of gram panchayats.
Kejriwal joined the team later in Kochi and Ernakulam district where they attended various talks and felicitation programs. During their stay in all places, Bajaj was not comfortable with one thing….that was the unexplained closeness Kejriwal and Shilpa shared with each other which would embarrass anyone being around them. She was even allowed to take money from the trust for personal use without giving any account of it.
The last place they visited was Thiruvananthapuram, which revealed the dark truths about Kejriwal. The team met the District Collector Sanjay Kaul in Thiruvananthapuram who had promised to help them in the project. The team was put up in a government guest house which was old but had spacious rooms.
Bajaj in Thiruvananthapuram often felt the trip was aimless as Kejriwal showed no interest in the schedule and did not leave the guest house before 10 -11 am. He also remembers an incident when an official from DC office had come to take the team to a gram panchayat meeting and found Kejriwal still on bed yawning!
The official had bluntly asked Kejriwal “Are you feeling Sleepy…??”
The team used to collect hundreds of documents for which tens of thousands of rupees was spent. Most of these documents were in Malayalam and had to be translated into English. But what was weird is none of the documents were neither translated into English nor did Kejriwal or Shilpa go through them even once.
These documents were stuffed in a cupboard, gathering dust in Kejriwal’s NGO office. The other documents collected from other districts also saw same fate. The cupboard was one day cleaned and all documents thrown.
One thing was very clear during the Thiruvananthapuram visit, it had nothing to do with work but rather was a fun trip. Shilpa and Kejriwal often found themselves taking long walks in night and taking day off (no one knew where they used to go).
There came day when Kejriwal wanted Bajaj to get few documents translated into English for which he had found a man. The next day on 18th November Kejriwal asked Bajaj to meet the translator for some reason for which he left. But it did not take long time for his return. Bajaj went straight to Kejriwal’s room to inform him about the developments.
Kejriwal’s room was locked from inside and he heard two voices speaking. Bajaj immediately knocked the door after which there was awkward silence for few moments and no one responded. When Bajaj went to knock the door again he noticed the gap between the door leaves through which he clearly saw part of the bed. His heart pounded when he saw both Kejriwal and Shilpa getting off the bed from right side. Kejriwal had immediately shoved her and hid her in the cupboard.
Bajaj was dumbstruck and the view was so clear that he feared if Kejriwal had seen him staring through the gap. Kejriwal answered the door and pretended to be resting. Bajaj told what he had to say in a hesitating tone. Kejriwal may have noticed the unusual behavior of Bajaj had casually asked him “Where is Shilpa?” They both knew she was right there hiding in the cupboard.
Bajaj was so disgusted and stunned that he mumbled with ignorance and left the room without looking back again. This was the last time he reported to Kejriwal. It shook the moral certainty of their work and his decision to leave the decent job in Business Today and join Kejriwal’s team.
Bajaj started to realize the Kerala tour had only been planned to facilitate what he saw in the room. Bajaj immediately informed his wife about all the events and asked her to book a flight to Delhi the very next day. He informed Kejriwal he had to leave to Delhi as his wife was pregnant, which definitely made Kejriwal happy as he had suspected Bajaj was aware of the incident. Kejriwal did stay in Kerala for few more days and after his return to Delhi, Bajaj refused to meet him and cut all his connections with him. Today the lady SHILPA chairs of a statutory body of his government.
Even after months…One thing kept recurring in his head : Quote “The Ramon Magsaysay award winning ‘social activist,’ whom I had witnessed being feted in Kochi the other day for promoting transparency, was engaged in some kind of secret bedroom farce with his own young colleague”.