As the heat of elections in Punjab rises, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers are powering the party’s campaign to ensure a good showing in the state. Volunteers includes people from various profession – from cooks and auto drivers to IIT graduates and multinational professionals – all work at a two-storey bungalow in Chandigarh with a common motive to ‘chase the change’. According to Indian Express, the volunteers work in the house that has five rooms each on the ground and first floors and a couple more on the second.
Among the volunteers is Gandharva Joshi of Kausani from Uttarakhand, who single-handedly leads the ‘calling campaign’ in Punjab, left his reputed job in an MNC in Atlanta to volunteer for AAP in 2014. Earlier, he was working for the party abroad – in 2013 he handled the NRI fundraising and calling campaign. In 2014 he joined the AAP poll campaign full time when Arvind Kejriwal took on Narendra Modi from Varanasi. And today he handles the campaign in Punjab where tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe make calls on a toll-free number and are connected to the electorate in Punjab. Joshi is responsible to keep and update a record of lakhs of calls.
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Raghu Mahajan, a PhD from Stanford, has developed three apps – Chalo Punjab for volunteer registration, one for door-to-door campaign and the third on campaign management that did not quite take off, is now monitoring booth management for the AAP. Over 27,000 volunteers report to him from 5,000 booths in Manjha region.
Meanwhile, ENT surgeon Sarika Verma and entrepreneur Richa Pandey Mishra labour over lists of volunteers and star campaigners respectively. Mishra, also AAP national spokesperson, has shut down her skill building start-up in collaboration with IIT Madras. For Punjab she has been micro-managing star schedules. Several volunteers confess their families do not even know they are here. Meanwhile, Pushpendra Singh, a fruit and vegetable trader who funds the meals, as auto driver Eashwar carries out huge vessels of food that he will ferry to the party’s other office in Sector 35. This way the whole lot of people are working behind the scenes to drive the AAP campaign for upcoming Punjab polls. Voting will take place in a single phase in Punjab on February 4.