CHANDIGARH (TIP): Harsharanjit Singh flew to India last December for a month-long vacation after having launched a software company in Belgium. But within days, he was campaigning for the Aam Aadmi Party. The software consultant went back to Belgium after holidaying with his doctor wife and seven-year-old daughter, but for just four days, just to complete the visa extension formalities so as to return to India and resume campaigning.
Singh is among several non-resident Indians who have found time from their busy professional lives to help the fledgling party led by Arvind Kejriwal. AAP, which raised the issue of corruption and stunned its rivals by finishing second in its first electoral outing in the Delhi assembly polls last December, marks the beginning of a new kind of politics in the country, says Singh. But he is not the only one in his family to pay the price for his decision.
While Singh has not returned to Belgium to look after his company, which he has left to his associates, his wife has not attended her clinic in Delhi since December and their daughter missed her final examinations for second standard. Such is their determination that Singh and his wife Kanwaljit Kaur leave behind Harkirat, their daughter, in a creche while they are out campaigning. Harkirat seems to share their enthusiasm as she insists on tagging along to distribute caps and pamphlets of the party. Like Singh, many other NRIs are supporting and contributing to AAP.
From formulating strategies, gathering donations and making phone calls to Indians from abroad to arranging fundraising events, these NRIs are working unstintingly to create what they believe is a “political revolution” to root out corruption and other ills that plague Indian politics. Several NRIs have left behind their lucrative jobs or businesses in foreign shores, undeterred by the financial losses. Some of them have been living alone in India for the past six months, having left their families abroad. From engineers to doctors and even students, NRIs from different walks of life and age groups are actively participating and supporting AAP. Munish Raizada, 45, a Chicagobased doctor was taken in by social activist Anna Hazare’s movement, with which Kejriwal was closely associated before he launched AAP. Raizada quit his job and returned to India last July, leaving his wife and two sons behind.
Since then, Raizada has been busy in fundraising , building a database to come up with poll strategies and gathering NRIs for support of AAP. In May last year, he was a key member of the convention held in Chicago which was addressed by Kejriwal via Google. After remaining actively associated with Kejriwal in Delhi, Raizada moved to Chandigarh. Though he was a contender for ticket from Chandigarh, he did not protest when Gul Panag was fielded by the party from the city beautiful. “I may be suffering on the financial front but I have no regrets on my decision. For, nation comes first. We cannot keep sitting on the fence and blame the system. It is only AAP which has the potential of providing an honest and transparent government,” he told ET from Chicago, where he has gone for two weeks.
He plans to return next week to join Kejriwal in his campaign in Varanasi. Shamsheer, a 25-year-old final year student of Aeronautical Sciences in Florida says he was peeved with the “bureaucratic and corrupt” set-up in the country. While on a vacation in India, he had a transformative experience when he went to an office in Chandigarh to apply for a driving licence. “I was introduced to touts by a cop. I returned home disgusted ,” he says, adding that the experience led him to pick up the broom (AAP symbol) to cleanse the system. Now that he is busy with AAP, his final year examinations will have to wait until the end of Lok Sabha polls. Singh, who was associated with AAP since its launch, says while he was in Belgium he called 40,000 Indians to request them to vote for the party.