iconimg Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 23, 2013
By its own admission, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) support and cadre chiefly come from resettlement colonies, slum clusters and lower-middle class neighbourhoods. And yet, some of the country’s highly successful professionals are flying to the Capital to “help it out”.
Most of these people harbour dreams of “a citizens’ group” succeeding in Delhi, which can help similar experiments to challenge the political leadership in their own backyards.     

Only a few months ago, Meera Sanyal was a highly successful career woman. Based in Mumbai, she was heading the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in India. Today, she is holding a door-to-door campaign, trying to garner support for AAP in dusty villages of Delhi. 

“I am meeting people in areas such as East of Kailash and Chirag Dilli. Some people identify with my ideas, some don’t. But that’s okay,” she said.

Just last week, media entrepreneur and former CEO of Star TV, Sameer Nair, joined the party and shot several short films for the party’s campaign. “For now, my role is limited to publicity. As we go along, the party will decide what more to do. I will definitely be spending more time in Delhi,” he said.

Sanyal, who will be ending a 30-year career in banking by giving up all her RBS commitments by December, will contest the 2014 general elections from south Mumbai. “I hope all these people (whom I am supporting) will support me. But it’s not conditional,” she says.

But what’s her takeaway? “I needed to know the realities of this country because wrong assumptions mean wrong interventions. And I didn’t want that to happen in my case,” she said.

“My support for AAP is irrespective of their performance in Delhi. We will take it forward to the 2014 general elections and beyond. We want to work together and make a difference in my city, too,” says Nair, whose family and businesses are based in Mumbai.

But why AAP? “In the 2009 general elections, I fought as an independent candidate from south Mumbai. Though I lost, I polled more than 10,000 votes. I lot of people supported me. I realised the value of selfless volunteers. I promised to myself that I will return the favour,” said Sanyal, who was accompanied by her husband who runs a consultancy firm in Mumbai.

For Nair, it’s all about the simple things that AAP talks of. “What I like in Arvind is that he and his colleagues talk of clean candidates and zero-tolerance to corruption. Such commitments make a big difference. Thanks to our political class, such people have become rare,” he said. 

Nair said he had not joined the party in a political way. “It’s more of an ideological association. Obviously, I am helping them with my 20 years of experience in media,” he added.