By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) Not just the locals but a large number of NRIs too are campaigning for the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi believing that party chief Arvind Kejriwal will bring in a change in the city. Hundreds of NRIs have flown into the city and are working on the ground as the national capital gears up for the Assembly polls on February 8.
Speaking to IANS, Convenor AAP Overseas, Prithvi Reddy said close to 500 NRIs are in Delhi campaigning for the AAP on the ground. He said the NRIs are taking part in the party’s campaigning and are seeking votes for the AAP, managing the volunteers and doing all kinds of tasks for the party.
Reddy said while some NRIs have came to Delhi in the last leg of the election, several others have been in the city from past two-three months.
“The support from the NRIs started with the India Against Corruption. I think they (NRIs) look at the Aam Aadmi Party as a ray of hope. People go abroad as it offers them a better opportunity and a better living standard. However, they will always be a second-grade citizen there. They feel like an outsider there, so they feel and wish that they should go back home.”
He said the AAP gives them hope that it will lead the country towards development so that the NRIs can return to the country and enjoy the same living standard that they enjoy abroad.
Explaining about the developed nations, he said that in foreign countries one has to pay taxes while the government takes care of education and health. “You don’t have to pay again. But here (in India), you pay taxes and then pay expensive school fees and hospital bills.”
“The money saved from these could be used for a better living standard. The AAP comes as a ray of hope here.”
He said the AAP supporters continue to repose trust in the party and Kejriwal’s leadership as it has fulfilled the promises.
“(Prime Minister) Modi was the hope and a rising star during the 2014 elections. But, everyone has seen that after five years, they have not delivered on the promises. But AAP fulfilled its promises and worked even more harder than it promised,” Reddy said.
He said that the public can sense that the AAP is bringing a positive change in the country.
Reddy said: “Right from the inception of the AAP, about 20 per cent of the election funding came from overseas supporters, including people from Canada, the UK, the US, Singapore, UAE among several others.”
Adding on to Reddy’s information, Kamal Garg, a software engineer based in Vancouver in Canada, told IANS that the funding and support is coming from so many small countries that “we cannot even imagine that party can get support from such far away lands”.
Reddy say the NRIs see this as an investment in the country.
Speaking about Garg, Reddy said being a Punjabi, Garg is managing about 500 Punjabi volunteers in the city.
“Everyone is contributing in whatever way they can. Despite any position, the NRIs are working for AAP.”
Garg recalled that he also contributed in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections.
Hailing from Punjab’s Moga, Garg said he has been part of the AAP since the formation of the IAC.
“I was a volunteer during the IAC. Soon after, I went to Canada. But, I kept following Arvind (Kejriwal) and his work.”
He said that the overseas volunteers stay connected with the party here through various social media platforms.
Garg also said they have formed a team of NRI volunteers, after people having mutual admiration for the AAP, came together.
He said their vision is the Kejriwal’s vision of India.
“While staying here, we don’t realise, but after staying in developed nations you will realise the importance of health and education. Why we need more concentration on the two sectors?”
He said it is a wish and desire of the NRIs that Kejriwal becomes the Prime Minister one day. “Weather this happens in one year or 20. We would love to see him as the PM.”
He explained that it is not just an emotional desire. “But Arvind’s plans for the nation are the plans for a developed India. India cannot be a developed nation with polarisation. It will be developed with education. People cannot read and understand the constitution without being educated. People will read and understand it if they are educated.”
Reddy said all the NRIs wishes to return to the nation one day, but lack of opportunity and a better lifestyle stops them from doing so.
“No matter what the NRIs say but their heart is still in the country. The field here (in India) is not level playing as those having contacts and influences can get things done easily, while the rest keep running. But, AAP works for everyone without any discrimination.”
AAP Canada convener Jaskirat Kaur also wished to see Kejriwal become the Prime Minister one day.
Co-Convenor AAP Overseas Preeti Menon explained that the NRIs have a dream that India too became as developed as the countries or cities they are living in.
“Arvind has managed to make their dream come true by providing world class healthcare and education free of cost. The NRIs want that the way Arvind has improved the city, one day he will also improve the country.”
The national capital is going for polls on February 8 and the NRIs too taking an active part in the campaigning.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])