“What was your electricity bill last month” is the first question Ajinkya Shinde (29) asks Sarita Kumari (56), a resident of Karawal Nagar. A software engineer, Shinde’s day starts a little differently now than it did till December.
A member of the AAP youth wing in Pune, Shinde has been in Delhi since January 2, going door to door in Karawal Nagar to canvass for the party. He is part of close to 800 outstation volunteers that have landed up in the capital since the beginning of the month.
“When we spoke to people initially, we realised the one thing they talk about the most are power bills. They appreciate the work done in education and health but what matters most is power and water. That is how we start our conversations now,” said Shinde.
Along with him are six others from Nagpur, most of who have taken leave from work.
Krutal Welekar (26) and her husband Piyush Akare (29) came to Delhi three days ago and were quickly sent to Karawal Nagar to help with the campaign. The group is staying in a house owned by an AAP member.
“We eat at another volunteer’s home. We also spend our own money. All of us work and can afford to do small things for the party,” Shinde said. Both he and Akare have campaigned in Delhi previously.
AAP’s national executive member Preeti Sharma Menon is coordinating work given to outstation volunteers and their boarding and lodging.
Menon, who lives in Mumbai, has been in the city for over a month and is living with the family of a party member. During Lok Sabha polls, she was in the city for three months and stayed with Assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel and his family.
The party office at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg is a mix of languages these days. While the highest number of volunteers are from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, many have come from Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
“Volunteers come straight to the party office, sometimes at 2 am. From there, they are sent to different constituencies, where our volunteer coordinators make arrangements,” Menon said.
Among those who arrived at the party office Monday evening was 31-year-old Moiyyad Vora, a mechanical engineer from Pune who lives in Cologne, Germany. “I took leave from office and will be here till January 29. This is the first time I will work in Delhi as a volunteer. I am new to the city and have been asked to contact supporters and recruit booth-level workers for polling day,” he said.
Menon said the primary difference between outstation volunteers and local ones is the time they manage to give. Local volunteers have children to pick up from school and parents to look after, while outstation volunteers are available through the day, she said.
“Many party workers ask for volunteers from Punjab, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala because the number of voters from these areas are higher in their constituencies, and they want there to be a connect,” she said.
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