Like their counterparts from other states, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members from Pune have started making a beeline for Varanasi, where former Delhi chief minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal is set to take on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections. The first group of 15 volunteers would be leaving Pune on April 25 while more are supposed to join the team during the first week of May. The temple town goes to polls on May 12.
Speaking to Newsline, AAP founder member Rajesh Mittal said party volunteers had been called to Varanasi after the Pune election to help in the campaign for Kejriwal. “Party cadets from across the country are going to Varanasi as the political battle there is huge. Pune volunteers would be doing door-to-door campaign once we reach there,” he said.
Kejriwal’s decision to contest elections against Modi was taken in March and the party has since started campaigning in Varanasi. Kejriwal, who too has been campaigning there for the last few weeks, has been heckled and shown the black flag. The Modi versus Kejriwal fight has become a matter for prestige for the party.
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Among those going to Varanasi are retired professional Kishore Mujumdar and students Divyang Baldota, Alisha Butala and others. Mittal and other volunteers from Pune had gone to Delhi last year to campaign for the Assembly elections. The AAP had won 28 seats in Delhi.
Mittal said the Pune volunteers would be put up in the homes of local volunteers in Varanasi. “Also, some of us have relatives in Varanasi, who would arrange for our stay,” he added.
Other than door-to-door campaign, the volunteers will also work as booth-level agents.
Party leaders Anjali Damania, Mayank Gandhi, Preeti Sharma Menon and Meera Sanyal would also be joining the campaign in Varanasi later on. Mittal said nearly 400 volunteers from Maharashtra were expected to be in Varanasi during the last phase of campaigning there. “Nearly 1,500 volunteers from across the country are already there and the number would cross the 2,000 mark towards the end of the campaign,” he said.