Though some members of Lok Paritran still fancy bright T-shirts with the logo of their party, the preferred dress code for the candidates is khadi kurtas with jeans. Reason: It adds a touch of maturity to the youthful, apolitical appearance of the IITians.
These technocrats, who quit cushy jobs to float a party in November 2005, have decided to test the turbulent waters of UP and are gearing up for the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections next year. Though it sounds a little preposterous now, Lok Paritran’s long-term goal is to pitch for power in Delhi.
What keeps them going is not the strength of 40,000 members (80 per cent of whom are professionals under 28) but the ‘tremendous response’. Not surprisingly, Bangalore has given them 20,000 members.
“We don’t need brains but courage,” says national president Tanmay Rajpurohit, who chucked his plum job in the United States. According to him, the biggest challenge before their party is not acquiring money or muscle power but convincing people that they are here to stay. The perception often is, ‘They are IITians, how long will they fight against odds?’ This is where the dress code helps. “We may be tech-savvy, but that helps only in expanding our network, may be in organising the first public meeting in a new place. You send messages via e-mails and SMS,” says Rajpurohit.
When they could not get a party office in Bangalore, Karnataka unit president B.T. Naganna converted a portion of his business office for their work. “We are going to contest civic elections in Bangalore,” says Naganna, adding that the Tamil Nadu experience was not bad. “We were noticed,” he says. “People wrote our obituaries saying we will not get more than 500 votes. We polled an average of 5200 votes,” adds Rajpurohit.
Ajit Shukla from IIT Mumbai is planning to contest from Lucknow along with other IITians, Omendra and Sankit Tripathi. “We will concentrate on a few seats in Lucknow, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Noida, Varanasi and Allahabad.” Shukla says while other parties spend crores, “we can contest with three to four lakhs”.
The corporate sector and like-minded people are extending ‘moral support’ but they know it is not enough. “Two decades back no one was ready to believe that Lakshmi Mittal would be the second richest man in the world or Narayana Murthy’s shares would sell like hot cakes,” says Shukla. After all, revolutions don’t come that easy.