We met Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) youngest contestant Durgesh Pathak (31) in the by lanes of the reclusive underdeveloped constituency of Karawal Nagar. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Karawal Nagar is half an hour’s drive away from Vidhan Sabha Metro Station via the Signature Bridge, Delhi’s new icon of development. We met Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) youngest contestant Durgesh Pathak (31) in the by lanes of this reclusive underdeveloped constituency.
At first sight, Karawal Nagar doesn’t even look like the rest of Delhi. Where the shine of the Signature bridge ends, hard-hitting reality of life starts. Drains overflowing on the (so-called) roads, piles of garbage lining the streets – an amalgamation of trucks, cars, hand carts, horse carriages and passersby create chaos on roads that scream for urgent need of development.
“Karawal Nagar is an interesting constituency, its full of migrants from villages across the country. Forget the big-ticket developments, the roads, sanitation and drainage are urgent developments that need to be done,” Pathak tells us.
The youth leader is contesting for the first time. But Durgesh Pathak has been at the forefront of the development issues of the area since sitting MLA from AAP, Kapil Mishar revolted against the party. As a trusted party member (not as a counsellor or MLA), for the past year, Durgesh is taking care of the area by developing the basic facilities. He says, “We have installed 4000 CCTV cameras, started Wi-Fi services, got the drains cleaned, started bus services, opened 7 Mohalla clinics in the past year.”
The Young One
In AAP Durgesh Pathak has risen swiftly among the ranks from grass-root level. He started off as a volunteer during Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill movement.
Self admittedly shy, Pathak never imagined being in politics. “I was opinionated but I was never on stage during my school or college days. Now my friends tease me when they see me or listen to any of my speeches,” he shares.
Seven-years-back he was just another young student in Delhi preparing for civil services. Pathak tells, “At one point in life you look back and realize how far you’ve come, something similar happened to me. When the Aandolan started, I believed in the cause it associated with. When the party started, I thought how can I leave it at this moment. If I had aimed to come this far, it surely wouldn’t have happened.”
In those days he enjoyed arts, literature and economics as subjects, “Literature or art to me is the reflection of the society. In any story, I enjoy the narrative, the socio-political landscape. Honestly, I read more political science than literature now,” he smilingly admits.
Politics of The Young
From being the National Organisation Building in-charge of the party for 2015 and 2017, to being the youngest member of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Political Affairs Committee up until preparing to contest in 2020 —Pathak has come a long way at a young age. For him, a prodigy of dynastical politics isn’t a young leader irrespective of his age. “I believe the definition of a ‘young leader is the one who has his/her own core ideologies and beliefs. Someone who has seen the problems at the ground level, can connect and has the willingness to make sacrifices.”
He further elaborates, “Aam Aadmi Party works with a single point agenda – development. People are always given a chance not based on the background but on merit. If it was any other political party in the country, I would have remained a block-level worker.”
On Education and Employment
Being a young politico backed by the love of political science as a student, Pathak’s views on education and employment issues in the country are quite clear. “The problem with that country is the absence of coherence between education system and pertaining industries,” he says.
Citing the example of China and the Stanford University-Silicon Valley ecosystem in California, US, he elaborates the need for better linked employment and education systems. “The youth today is informed and questions why are we still a developing nation. We study that India’s and China’s GDP in 1978 was the same. Today we are behind Bangladesh in growth rate. Why so? Just because a country like China invested immensely in its education and infrastructure. No political party so far has invested much in the educational models… These are utopian examples. We have buffaloes tied inside schools while students have to sit outside,” he says.
Delhi Election 2020
At 31, AAP’s Durgesh Pathak has a political career of decades ahead of him. Given his background, Pathak understands the difference between being an election in-charge and contesting the election. “When you support someone in the election then you have to deal directly with the public focusing more on running campaigns, making strategy, getting your messages synced, etc. When contesting, the feeling cannot be described in words. The pressure is enormous as when you meet people, talk to them, they request you to get their work done, not to betray them.”
“The pressure is enormous as when you meet people, talk to them, they request you to get their work done, not to betray them.”
He is considerate, result-driven, and development-oriented. His continuously ringing phone is a testament to how the Karawal Nagar residents have put their trust in a young leader. Pathak takes each call and call to action when needed. Pathak believes social media is a double-edged sword spreading awareness as well as fake news. Like a true millennial his social media game is strong, and for the right reasons, “There are a lot of working-class people who leave home at 10 am and come back by 7 pm and we can’t meet them. So, we connect to such 5000-7000 people via social media and a digital rally app,” he shares.
In the past year, Karawal Nagar area has seen some necessary developments but that isn’t enough for him. Pathak wants to bring in big-ticket changes like hospitals, stadiums, and industries. But there are things he’d like to do right away, “If I am given a chance, in the next 4 months I plan to deliver pucca roads and drainage system. 17-18 streets need urgent attention; we’ll start immediate work there. In the next two months, the water problem will be solved, CCTV Cameras will be installed, 10 more Mohalla Clinics will be in place.”
It’d be curious to see how Durgesh will perform if elected, as he hasn’t even started!
Copy Edited by Chitresh Sehgal/Video by Sandesh Chaudhary