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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Merchandise, fundraisers; Kejriwal fans ape Obama campaign tactics

PTI  New Delhi/Bangalore, March 09, 2014
First Published: 12:51 IST(9/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:18 IST(9/3/2014)
Arvind Kejriwal has his differences with Rahul Gandhi, but both have in common an affinity for the American style of democracy.
 
While Congress vice-president Gandhi has introduced US-style primaries to pick candidates for some Lok Sabha seats, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has scheduled a fund-raising dinner in Bangalore during a two-day visit by Kejriwal, the face of the rookie party.
 
Fund-raising dinners are by no means the sole proprietorship of the US or the West, but Indian politicians are not known to have warmed up to them.
 
Incidentally, Karnataka is among the top four states in offering donation to the AAP. According to AAP data, Rs. 76.68 lakh was donated from Karnataka, making it the fourth highest after Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
 
Kejriwal is slated to begin his visit to the Karnataka capital on March 15.
 
The fund-raiser is being coordinated by former Infosys board member and the party's prospective candidate from Bangalore Central, V Balakrishnan.
 
Aiming big, the AAP has announced its decision to contest all the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka.
 
"What I can confirm is a dinner has been scheduled for March 15 in the city with an intention to raise fund for the party. Balakrishnan is kind of coordinating this event," AAP Karnataka media coordinator Rohit Ranjan told PTI.
 
Asked about reports that the fund-raising dinner was priced at Rs. 20,000 per person, Ranjan said, “Modalities of this event are being worked out and it will be premature to comment about it.
 
The Americanism doesn’t stop here. Some Kejriwal supporters are feeding off US president Barack Obama’s campaign strategy as well.
 
Kraanti, a Gurgaon-based firm set up by AAP supporters, is selling T-shirts with the party and Kejriwal's name, along with other items such as coffee mugs, wristbands, badges and key chains.
 
"The concept has been inspired by Obama merchandise used by US president Barack Obama’s supporters in his election campaign. We decided to adopt the same model,” said Vibha Singh, an IITian who quit her job in a news channel as marketing and strategy development officer to join the AAP movement.
 
"We will soon come up with AAP jhadu with a party logo, bottled water and notebooks with AAP and Kejriwal's photo on them. These products won't be expensive like T-shirts and can also be symbolic.”
 
Shipa Khare Arora, who also quit her job in a broking firm to join the AAP, said, "We were there in Rohtak and Kanpur rallies where we received a good response. Such products help increase party support and a feeling of loyalty towards the party."
 
The merchandise has found liking among the colleges, especially in IITs and IIMs and abroad as well.
 
"We have got requests and queries from cities like Raipur and Indore. We have also received queries from Georgia and Boston in the US," Singh added.
 
Both Singh and Arora said their start-up firm would donate a certain percentage of profits to the party.
 
Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi too have floated merchandise to boost his ratings.

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