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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

An army in US battles for Narendra Modi's cause

Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times  Washington, April 01, 2014
First Published: 09:41 IST(1/4/2014) | Last Updated: 10:21 IST(1/4/2014)

Dhrumi Bhatt has a second job these days.

This week, this 35-year-old energy professional with a Fortune 500 US company will cold-call chartered accountants and sweet shop owners in east Delhi.

In her calls, Bhatt will pitch a man she believes has given her hometown Ahmedabad better roads than in New Jersey, United States, where she now lives — Narendra Modi.

Bhatt makes about 20 such calls every morning before leaving for work, and 20 more after she returns.

"It's like a second job for me," she said in an interview.

Each call lasts around a minute or a minute and a half. If the pitch goes badly, the call is terminated quickly — the callers are under instructions to not get confrontational.

And that rarely happens. Mostly they listen, specially when they figure out the voice at the other end belongs to a non-resident Indian.

"They show respect, then," said Bhatt.

But that in itself is never a guarantee.

Bhatt and others like her in America — a mix of non-resident Indians and Indian-Americans (the difference is citizenship) — have a list of 45 swing seats they are cold-calling.

There are no numbers to quantify Modi's support in the Indian-American community, those with or without a vote in India, but they tend to be more vocal and visible.

Bhatt alone has made around 500 calls so far. And she spends hours outside Indian grocery stores handling out flyers — often in the open, braving the cold of this unusually snowy winter.

Bhatt is one of many professionals working for Modi in the coming elections. And they all almost to a woman (and a man) insisted they were in it for him.

And not for the BJP.

Neha Srivastav, a 27-year-old graphics designer with a Wall Street bank, grew up in a politically divided family: her mother supported congress and her father the BJP.

Srivastav came to support Modi on her own completely, and just him, not the BJP.

She now patrols social media for lies and half-truths about Modi, nailing them hard and as fast as she can.

She manages seven or eight social media pages focused singularly on advancing Modi's cause — including the party’s webpage for her hometown Lucknow.

"I am a fanatic," Srivastav said.

She puts in for to five hours every weekend working on graphics and posts for her webpages and sites, said the 27-year-old graphic designer.

She is currently battling — tagging, it's called in Twitterverse — a Congress functionary who slammed Modi's women supporters as "Hate Hags" recently.

She is outraged, and is letting everyone know.


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