Love at First Sight:
This was followed by volunteer workshop who signed up during the Convention. The momentum of volunteerism went to a new high over dinner as soon as we announced that we had made a loss of $2700 as paid out of pocket by few Chicago volunteers, and 27 NRIs stood up to share the burden by paying $100 each. One of the participants Rashmi from Dallas, was requested by Chicago team as host on the podium, Raghava from Houston was managing a booth on awareness of NRI voting rights. The shy Rashmi gracefully conducted her first ever stage session and months later she sent an email to all saying she has decided to quit her job and move to Delhi to help the party. Raghava also quit his job and moved to Delhi to help in the last 6 months of struggle. Everytime we rejected donation from Indians (PIOs) who had US Passport, they would feel very helpless and tell us that this is first time they came across a political party that did not accept money from them. They would then choose to volunteer by inspiring Indians with Indian Passport to join AAP and sign for up donation program.
This Convention snowballed the whole NRI movement into a different orbit, where several city chapters were founded and each identified areas of focus to help build the party. The beauty of this momentum, was that inspite of any handholding of senior leader, ordinary people came together and built their own way of contribution thru skills and competency mapping.
Its painful many times to hear judgmental statements, that AAP is funded by Khaas Aadmis abroad. Many don’t know the struggles even we take to provide this money. I have seen volunteers doing small to big sacrifices to save money and donate. Whether it’s a working people choosing to walk in bitter cold to save that $15 cab ride every day to cancelling vacation trips to India. Majority of Indians who come here for work have still an ongoing regular struggle of liabilities and mortgage in India or US (agreed no inflation). Sukanya, one of our volunteers from Chicago took over the baton of being Chicago Chapter SPOC, and she rallied volunteers, with specific goals and our scale of contribution moved to different level. Kakoli led our Telephone program with Chicago and was assisted with Upendra, leading by example they used to spend long hours calling people and volunteers in India and mobilizing them further. On the last day of campaign (late night US time), Kakoli’s house was virtual call center and she would ensure every volunteer has coffee and food.
Call to Nation
AAP BUZZ Campaign
Day of Voting
At 3 pm I decided to move to Chandni Chowk, I wanted to see the other India for whom everyday is struggle. In the small bylanes of Old Delhi, I could feel the true dance of Democracy, oneside the huge queues of voters and others side battery of seasoned party workers who would have phones plugged in their ears, hands filled with voter list calling out their colleagues to comb out voters who haven’t come out to vote. There were only 2 names here Haathi and Haath. I was amazed at the way they were organized; volunteers of AAP outside these polling booths were like trophies kept in war-room unable to comprehend how to battle out the muscle-men. These seasoned party workers knew the game too well; they had stop-clock on their mobile as before 5pm they had to get everybody in the line. It reminded me of bus conductors in private buses of Goa, who would pull people to board the bus as if it was the last bus for their journey. The heavy police presence right infront of all this just another element of orchestra as they looked on. At 4.59 police got into action and at 5pm they pushed away every voter who wanted to get in the line saying 5pm everything is closed. I wondered what happens to Daily wage worker to whom the holiday doesn’t apply, how would he cast a vote.
Days of Anxiety-waiting for results
Contribution of NRIs- Article on NYT
On 28 December 2013, Arvind Kejriwal rode on Metro to same Ram Leela Maidan where the whole anti-corruption movement started, the same Ram Leela Maidan that witnessed the speeches of Freedom Struggle, Emergency protests and big political rallies, at this Venue he and his team of young elected member took their oath. Coincidentally, 28 December is the day, when AO Hume formed Indian National Congress to fight against British through political discourse and same day when Dhirubhai Ambani & Ratan Tata were born against whose empires AAP team publicized corruption charges, which costed a media ban on AAP.
Life does come a full circle. Jai Hind !