From actors to doctors and army majors—the outsiders who have stepped out of their day jobs and stepped in to run Campaign 2014.
ADIT MOHAN (40)
Ex-army major, former administrative facilitator for GE, Accenture and Tesco
Campaign manager for V Balakrishnan, AAP
Bangalore Central Lok Sabha Constituency
Aditi Mohan’s two daughters, Khushi, seven, and Muskaan, five, are a little miffed with the “uncle” their mother spends all her time with these days. The man in question is former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency, whose campaign she manages. On a busy Saturday afternoon, he is seated at Mohan’s dining table. The aroma of sambar and heated conversations about Bangalore’s water woes waft through her apartment on Sarjapur Road, south Bangalore, where she has just wrapped up a campaign meeting with the resident welfare association. Casually attired in a T-shirt and pants, and armed with a ready smile and a notebook, Mohan, 40, looks ready to spring into action again. She is anxious to be on time for their next appointment — a rally in Bellandur.
A former major in the Indian army, Mohan is punctual and energetic, and infectiously upbeat. She is known to break into a dance in the middle of the streets, brandishing the AAP broom to lighten the mood of the campaign. Now she slips on a pair of sunglasses and looks breezily out of the open campaign vehicle as though it weren’t 36 degrees Celsius outside.
“Aditi is very organised and committed. I am happy with how the campaign is shaping up and I think it is important not to micro-manage people who are competent,” says Bala, trailing her through the streets of Shivajinagar in central Bangalore. They make an unlikely team: one a soft-spoken Tamil, clad in an earthy kurta and jeans, the other a livewire from Lucknow, who speaks in a rehearsed voice laced with tehzeeb. “Aam aadmi chuniye, sahi aadmi chuniye,” she says, folding her hands in appeal. After only eight years in the city, Mohan cannot yet speak Kannada, but she says that hasn’t stood in the way of the campaign. “As long as you speak with respect, bow your head and connect with people, they will understand you,” she says.
The Aam Aadmi Party is a cause she believes in. “This movement is no less than a second independence movement to fight internal enemies and people like us are a part of it,” Mohan says. Though she was a contender for the Bangalore Central seat, Mohan says she was relieved when she didn’t make it. She was hoping to campaign for the party from Rae Bareli when the offer to work with Bala in central Bangalore came through. “I don’t know if I am ready for politics. Bala and the others have been encouraging me to stand for the corporation elections next year,” Mohan says. “Right now, all my focus is on Bala. He deserves people like us and the people deserve a leader like him.”
Leading from the front comes naturally to Mohan, who grew up around army officers and married one. After serving for eight years in the army, she joined the corporate world in 2004 to manage administrative facilities for GE, Accenture and Tesco, before quitting last year after losing her mother. “When I was in the hospital with her, I realised that all my life, I had been giving her excuses for not doing things. I had always been busy with work. Now I knew that my girls needed me,” she says. “But being a soldier, I couldn’t stay home for very long.” Her husband, Pankaj Adhar Ahlawat, also a former army major who now heads logistics for a multinational bank, jokes that her busy schedule is the secret of their successful marriage. He waves to her as she heads out into the sun to do what she does best: fight for a cause.