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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

Where politics meets the 'aam aadmi'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 24, 2012
First Published: 23:48 IST(24/11/2012) | Last Updated: 23:53 IST(24/11/2012)

Keyboards clacking; TV news blaring in the background; people seemingly speaking to invisible counterparts on Bluetooth-headsets; hushed meetings behind closed doors; news OB vans parked outside; and everyone - almost  everyone - busy tweeting or posting status messages on Facebook. Welcome to ground zero of Arvind Kejriwal's newly launched 'aam aadmi' party.

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In the days running up to the launch, Team Kejriwal has been busy - highlighting the plight of former NSG commando Surendra Singh, organising a youth rally, and preparing for the formal launch of the party at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.

While the core team handles the public face of the campaign-be it holding TV interviews, organising press conferences or framing the party constitution, back at the IAC office in Kaushambi - a 30-minute ride from Rajiv Chowk Metro station - people work diligently, but in a collegial and relaxed atmosphere.

With a battery of young energetic volunteers, the IAC propaganda machine is in full control of the information war that today's politics has turned into.

Whether it is tweeting (and re-tweeting and re-re-tweeting) or adding content to Facebook and the IAC website, this 'Main hoon aam aadmi' cap-wearing crack team of information superhighway commandos is on the job round-the-clock. One look at the IAC Facebook page is proof enough.

Everyone is busy - designing slogans for the website, writing and translating the Vision Document, or uploading videos on YouTube. They even organised a 'Google hangout' with Arvind Kejriwal recently.

The importance of their efforts, however, is not lost on anyone. Manish Sisodia himself came in to see whether the news channels had picked up the NSG commando story last Thursday.

With one foot out the door but both eyes still on the TV screen, he quipped, "And if the BJP takes up the NSG issue now, they suddenly become our B-team." Everyone laughed.

People constantly come in to voice their support - there is even a counter where citizens can register and offer help, donations, etc. Small groups discuss politics at the tea stand outside.

One can hear Mr Bluetooth-headset loudly asking people to 'be founding members' of the party.

The small two-storey house-turned-into-party-HQ sits amid the filth, exposed sewage and piles of construction debris at the end of a street near Kaushambi Metro station. But nobody seems to notice. 

As with any 'party office', there are numerous people just hanging around. A group of six-seven men sit around, discussing everything from Bal Thackeray's funeral to the politics of dynasty in Punjab.

Prashant Bhushan is seen being interviewed by three TV channels just outside, with cameras capturing his trademark hand gestures.

But unlike most party offices, not a single white kurta-clad fat-cat is to be found. Change, it seems, begins at home.


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