Campaigning finally gains momentum

Addressing his first rally in west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden constituency, Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal urged people to vote for change

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | November 22, 2013


AAP`s volunteers from other states
AAP`s volunteers from other states

The campaigning, for assembly elections on December 4, finally began on Wednesday with the road-show of Aam Admi Party's (AAP) chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal, in West Delhi's Rajouri Garden constituency.
 
The road-show, delayed by almost two hours, saw few hundred people, including outstation volunteers, some women supporters from Shakurbasti (near Rohini in north-west Delhi) and supporters of the local candidate.
 
The road-show of the party, the first in these elections, had all the colours of a campaign including the dholwalas and the dancers, the songs played on loud speakers and firecrackers.
 
With banners and brooms in their hands party supporters shouted slogans like ‘nahi rahegi lachaari, ab aam aadmi ke baari’ and ‘Niklo bahar makano se jung lado baimaano se’.
 
Somnath Bharat, a volunteer who came all the way from Kanpur, joined the Kejriwal’s team during the Anna movement two years ago. He landed in Delhi on November 15 and would stay here till elections. Bharat, who has a wholesale business of medicines, says he has got the task to distribute pamphlets door-to-door in the constituency. “We ask people to come out in huge numbers and show their support for the party. The candidates are new; they don’t have much knowledge about how elections are fought. We are just trying to help them and be a part of this great opportunity.”

Bharat is not alone. Arun Kumar Srivastava, a former section officer at CAG, has come from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to show his support for Anna and Kejriwal. “We have come on our own, thinking we can help in contributing for better governance in Delhi.”

Kejriwal reached the venue, a small stage made just next to the local sikh temple, amidst loud cheers and bursting of firecrackers. The party workers took him to the temple before starting the road-show.

After coming out, he took the mic in his hands and addressed the people saying that the upcoming assembly election can change the fate of their lives.
 
He said that till now there was just the BJP and Congress, but for the first time, people are getting a better alternative to bring change in their lives. “Yeh chunav aapki zindagi badal sakta hai. Aapki takdeer badal sakta hai. (This election can change your lives, it can change your destiny)
 
He added, “It is hard to believe how just a one-year-old party is getting an overwhelming response from the people. You just go out in the streets and ask people. Today nearly eight out of every 10 people are saying they will vote for Jhadoo.”
 
He said the election will be a contest between honesty and corruption. People have been looking for change and this time they have an honest alternative. He also urged people to come out and vote in large numbers.
 
Though he came straight after releasing the party’s manifesto, Kejriwal did not mention the promises his party made in the manifesto. Also, during his address, not even once, did he introduce the party’s candidate from the constituency.
 
After giving his speech standing on an open jeep, Kejriwal’s convoy, which included three jeeps and two auto rickshaws, went ahead to cover other lanes.
 
EC’s eye on expenditure
An axiom of our democracy is that money power makes the polls go round. But with Rs 14 lakh set as the upper limit of poll expenditure by the Delhi Election Commission (EC), it may not hold true this time around. The flying squad of the EC is keeping a close eye on the expenditure made by candidates on any poll related activity.
 
In Kejriwal’s road-show too, a team of four, including a videographer, two officers and a constable, was keeping a tab on all the expenditure details like the caps being distributed, banners and loud speakers used, crackers burst etc.

The videographer makes a CD which is handed to the video surveillance team and video viewing team. These teams have the market rates of a particular product or service used in campaigning to determine the approximate amount of money spent by each candidate during elections.
 
One of the officers, a technical officer in the Science and technology institute, PUSA, who did not wish to be named, said, “At the end, the team will compare the details submitted by the candidates. Every detail will be matched and in case of discrepancies, proper action will be taken.”
 
Back in the colony
For Sunny Kumar, 24 years, elections have been no less than any other festival with a lot of “shor-sharaba” (noise) almost two months before the election day in 2008. Screaming loudspeakers on auto rickshaws, songs of political parties on Hindi film music, and local leaders of different parties visiting houses for campaigning; all this has been symbolic of elections in the past.
A first time voter in the assembly elections, Kumar said people used to put party flags on their houses and local (party) workers distributed sweets many days in advance. But this time around, the things have changed. “Is baar pehle jaisi baat nahi hai. Is baar totha thanda mahaul hai. Koi shor sharaba nahi. Dekh ke lagta hi nahi ki das din me vote hain. Lagta hai sarkar ne mana kiya hai shor machine se.”

Kejriwal’s road-show in the constituency was just two kilometers away from his colony, but it missed out on all the action.
 
Kumar, who sells old clothes after repairing and cleaning them in the market near Red fort, said the only party which has contacted them so far is the ‘Jhadoo wali party’. “Only they have been visiting regularly. They come in every three days and distribute pamphlets in households and ask us to vote for them.” Kumar knows about Arvind Kejriwal, but is not aware of the local candidate of the party. He had participated in the Anna rally, two years ago. Kumar said, unlike other party workers, who just show off the work done by them, AAP workers talk about removing corruption from the political system. “Woh jhadoo lekar aate hai. Aur kehte hai ki galli ki gandgi se lekar rajneeti ke gandgi tak sab saaf karenge.”

For Kumar, vote has been a way to get things done for better. “Vote to dalna zaroori hota hai. Hamare vote se sarkar banti hai,” said Kumar. He adds, “vote nahi daalenge to vikas nahi hoga.”

His elder brother, who did not wish to be named, however is not very excited about the campaigning activity. He said, “I don’t care about who all are standing. I know whom I have to vote for. My MLA has done a lot of work in the last five years and my vote would go to him.” He said, “hamare vote na dalne se party ko itna fark nahi padta jitna hame padta hai. Unko to sabh pata hota hai kaun vote dalta hai kaun nahi. Nahi dalenge to kaam kaise karwayenge.” (Our vote won’t make much difference to the party. But it is important for us. They know who votes and who do not. If we’ll not vote how we’ll get things done.)

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