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In the afternoon heat, swarms of flies hover over meat, fish and rotting piles of refuse in Russell Market. In his kurta and jeans, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cap slightly askew on his head, former Infosys CFO and candidate from Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency V Balakrishnan wades through the chaos. “Do you know how I convinced my wife and my family, who are entrenched in middle-class values, to let me join politics? I said, if nothing else, I will at least lose 10 kg,” jokes the 49-year-old, halfway through a day-long padayatra. To win in this particularly tricky constituency where minorities account for over 20 per cent of the voter base, the AAP broom must dust away at its deepest, darkest corners. Here are 5 points Balakrishnan is underlining in his campaign:
1. “What has the sitting MP been doing? Corruption hai yahan?” Bala gingerly asks the fruit and flower sellers who rebuilt Russell Market all on their own. His small, high-energy campaign team does the rest of the proselytising. A silver-haired AAP supporter from the Muslim traders’ community reminds his friends that offering or accepting a bribe is haraam under Islam. Bala’s campaign manager Aditi Mohan, a former Army Major, talks in a measured voice about how the candidate had sacrificed his high-paying job at Infosys to “work for you”. People readily put on Aam Aadmi caps and murmur vows of support.
Mohammad Idrees Choudhury, a dry-fruit seller and general secretary of the Russell Market Traders’ Association, says all 2,000 traders here, and their families, will vote for AAP. “We are sick of corruption and inaction,” he says.
2. “Using statistical models, we compared wards in Delhi where the party did well to wards with similar demographics in Bangalore and the outlook looks good,” says Shailesh, the campaign technology manager who worked under Balakrishnan at Infosys.
3. Having just launched a website, aapkabala.com, and a social media campaign, the 15 to 20 core campaign team members are applying finishing touches to volunteer-developed IT systems that are already in use for managing the day-to-day campaign, the pool of volunteers and the flow of donations. Several web apps, payment gateway integration, jingles and ads will soon be added to the digital infrastructure that has been developed by supporters across the world, including from Silicon Valley.
4. Balakrishnan makes it clear that his campaign will not involve “bombarding people with too many ads on social