If it is the RSS cadre who are working silently for the BJP in Varanasi, for the SP-Congress alliance it is the non-political volunteers who have fanned out across the city with the ‘Phir Sey Akhilesh’ message.
Thousands of volunteers, including young women are campaigning for the alliance, wearing specially designed T-shirts embossed with the slogans ‘Phir Sey Akhilesh’ and ‘UP ko yeh saath pasand hai’.
To pick up the volunteers, ground mobilisation started on February 14 while the special “Chalo Kashi” campaign was launched online on March 1 where interns interested in working in Varanasi and supporting the RG-AY signed up to campaign for one week, a strategist in the Prashant Kishor team said.
A form was given out in which people filled up their name, numbers and choice of assembly constituency and were assigned campaign duties which included staging street plays and a door-to-door campaign.
The team mobilised the youth in IIT-BHU and other local institutes by speaking about the campaign and the situation in Varanasi.
Most of the volunteers are young educated professionals and students from the universities and villages who had voted for Modi three years ago and were “disappointed” with his performance and there are many others who are “impressed” with Akhilesh Yadav’s vision of development and the works undertaken by him in his five years in power, he said.
This is one of the many efforts to ensure that young voters also take active part to get a first hand experience of running an election campaign.
As of now, 5,000 volunteers from across the country including large number of students of IIT-BHU are helping digitally and on the ground with the campaign.
Elaborating on how the team is going about in the campaign at the ground level, he said the “chaiwallas” and “paanwallahs” of this region are being used actively for the ‘Phir Se Akhilesh’ campaign with an aim of outdoing the “chaiwallah” campaign of the prime minister in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The chaiwallas and paanwallas are seen sporting the ‘Phir Se Akhilesh’ and ‘UP Ko Yeh Saath Pasand Hai’ T-shirts to project a popular image of the alliance.
Volunteers from the IIT-BHU are reaching out to tea vendors and others across the region and mobilising their support for the alliance.