In The Mood for Change: Press Like and Vote

From actors to doctors and army majors—the outsiders who have stepped out of their day jobs and stepped in to run Campaign 2014.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Published:April 13, 2014 12:02 am
Always Online: Aman Pawar at a Congress rally in East Kailash. Always Online: Aman Pawar at a Congress rally in East Kailash.

From actors to doctors and army majors—the outsiders who have stepped out of their day jobs and stepped in to run Campaign 2014.

AMAN PAWAR (25)
Lawyer, Delhi High Court
Social Media Manager for Ajay Maken, Congress
New Delhi Lok Sabha Constituency

There’s a festive energy in the air in Garhi Chaupal near East of Kailash, with Congress flags strung up across the buildings. The village elders sit in corners smoking hookahs, while people crowd the small meeting space awaiting the arrival of the Congress candidate from New Delhi, Ajay Maken. The playing of the nagara (drum) marks his arrival and flowers are showered on him as he enters a room where villagers tie a coloured cloth around his head. Following close behind is 25-year-old Aman Pawar, who oversees Maken’s social media team. He quietly steps into the room to observe the proceedings. Since Maken filed his nominations two weeks ago, Pawar has shadowed him across the constituency, working as his eyes and ears.

From actively practising civil law in the Delhi High Court until last year, to overlooking the operations of Maken’s social media team, Pawar, a Youth Congress member, has made a quick switch. “I had been associated with Mr Maken while he was general secretary, All India Congress Committee, and that is how I got roped into being part of the social media team. Now, I put my knowledge of the law to use by advising people from the constituency who require urgent legal help,” Pawar says.

Pawar doesn’t just manage Maken’s online presence — he flits between padayatras and Maken’s office, which functions out of his residence on Pandit Pant Marg, putting together press releases on the day’s events during lunch and coordinating with the campaign team in the second half of the day. Part of his online campaign strategy are 32 short films shot using mobile phones and camcorders by seven community reporters — college students or part of the Youth

Congress cell — which are uploaded on social media and played from campaign vehicles. These films have tried to capture the work undertaken by Maken, ranging from how large parts of the New Delhi constituency got gas pipelines under his tenure as MP to how the come-and-play scheme launched by him is helping young athletes.

Pawar says that a lot of research went into redesigning Maken’s website. “It is imperative to be connected through social media. I use it as a medium to interact and exchange ideas with people, especially youth. I believe that my media team is doing a wonderful job,” says Maken.

With Maken covering 15-18 km on foot every day, Pawar says there is no time to relax. “Once we get back to office by 10 pm, we need to work out his schedule for the next day before heading home. Such work requires sincerity and concentration and you might miss your friend’s birthday but you know that life will go back to normal in a month,” says Pawar, who doesn’t yet know what life has in store for him after the elections.

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