First there were trucks. Then there were jeeps. And finally, there were specially designed campaign-purpose vehicles. Keeping away from all that is commonplace to campaigns, the Aam Aadmi Party’s first campaign run in Central Chennai began on rails and ended up on foot. Over 80 volunteers, armed with their brooms (party symbol) gathered, along with Central Chennai candidate J Prabhakar at the Beach Station, and began campaigning amongst mid-morning travellers.
Despite a ruckus at their party office on OMR on Friday night, where “anti-social elements” picked a fight with functionaries, the young group of AAP volunteers said the show would go on and arrived on time, brooms et al. They braved the swelteringly hot 34 degrees Celsius sun and boarded the EMU at Chennai Beach Station. “We were a little surprised when people boarded the train with Nehru caps and started sweeping. We thought that it was a street play by students, but then they asked for our problems and promised to help,” said Nandhini J, who resides in Washermenpet, and was on the train during the AAP campaign.
As woes of bad platforms, inadequate seating and no fans came flowing forth, Prabhakar assured them that if voted to power they would ensure that these basic issues were met. As the train wound to Chintadripet station a little past noon, the group then made a visit to the slum adjacent the station and ‘swept’ their way in. “There were quite a few people who were disillusioned with the existing parties and said that we would also just make promises and never follow up, but we gave them our personal numbers and told them about the accountability that AAP promised,” said one of the volunteers. While a few of them appeared to be convinced, some stuck to their loyalist beliefs and said that they would vote only for Dravidian parties.
En route to Ritchie Street, the city’s ‘grey’ electronic hub, the group bumped into a group of students who assured them of their support. “This is a youth-based party and we believe that things will change, like in Delhi,” said Law College student Kathiresan, who said that he used to work with the Student Congress.
Whether or not people paid heed to the party’s anti-corruption tirade against Dayanidhi Maran, the brooms being waved around and the ‘sweeping’ statement the volunteers carried forward, brought a lot of smiles.