If you thought that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption pitch has caught the imagination of only the urban middle class in the capital, then think again. Despite not having a stake in the Delhi Assembly polls, people from across India are contributing to the party’s coffers, to help them win the December Assembly polls.
Ram Nandan Singh, 55, from Begusarai town in Bihar, recently donated Rs 11,000 to the party. Begusarai was once the Left’s backyard, where politics has always revolved around feudal and caste practices.
“AAP does not have any political base in Begusarai, but the common thread that connects the party’s principles with everyone is its anti-corruption crusade,” says Singh, who used to be a die-hard supporter of the Left parties. “The Left has lost its direction whereas AAP seems to have political solutions to the aam aadmi’s problems.”
Singh hopes — like many young professionals in the country, who found hope in Anna Hazare’s agitation in 2011 — that a victory for AAP has the power to change the political discourse in the country. “If AAP wins in Delhi,” says Singh, an engineer- turned-educationist, “it will change politics in the country.”
Curiously, AAP’s politics has also found resonance in Jammu & Kashmir, where communal divide and separatist movements are the deciding political factors.
Nazir Ahmad, 42, who runs a software firm in Kupwara, says that it’s not just the violence that Kashmiris are fed up with, but also widespread corruption.
“When Kejriwal makes a pitch against corruption in Delhi, it strikes a chord with us here,” says Ahmad. “Most of the time, innocent youth are detained by the police and asked for money in lieu of their release.”
Ahmad, who has made two contributions totalling Rs 300, says that even if AAP wins 10 seats in the Delhi election, it will be very encouraging for people like him.
SS Raghuvanshi, 33, who works for a public sector company in the Union territory of Daman and Diu, has donated Rs 1,000 to AAP. “Unless Kejriwal is allowed to come to power, despite his good intentions, he would never be able to bring change,” he says. “That’s why I donated.”
Daman and Diu borders Gujarat, where Narendra Modi’s governance model has been lauded. So, why is he not rooting for the BJP? “Modi himself may be honest but his party is not,” says Raghuvanshi. “AAP has set a new benchmarks for honesty in Indian politics.”
Satya Mitra, a techie from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, echoes these sentiments. Originally enrolled in the voter list at Baghpat, the stronghold of Union Civil Aviation Minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief, Ajit Singh, Mitra has so far been voting for the RLD.
“But now, I am not going to vote unless AAP fights elections in Uttar Pradesh,” says 26-year-old Mitra who has already sent Rs 20,000 for the Delhi poll campaign. AAP’s leaders say that small contributions have been pouring in from all over the country, including the Northeastern states.
Against the target of Rs 20 crore to be collected as funds for the Delhi polls, the party has managed to amass close to 17 crore, says a senior leader. The party has already earned support from many corporate executives.