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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This is the first Indian politician to emerge on the stage professionally and fully trained and formed. A Barack Obama of India if you will. Consider his journey to this point. First he becomes an Engineer from the leading college in India, then he joins the revenue service, by far the toughest job to get entry to, by clearing competitive exams and interviews.

Then he moves into activism, community organizing, protest, social work and understands all the tools and methods needed. He then creates a brand, "common man party", with a brand image of being just a regular guy who is fed up of corruption, and reluctantly has joined politics. He wears a muffler, thick glasses, cheap floaters, reynolds pen in pocket and breaks into the old boys club, not respecting any rules, just going full out on aggression and action.

The current crop of politicians are all 3rd generation types who were handed down their seats from parents etc...and are ill-equipped to face a genuine sharp contender. In one sweep he wipes out India's oldest party from the National Capital and when the old order gangs up on him, he counterattacks by resigning from Delhi, and contesting the national elections, taking on both national parties at the same time.

Its a masterly demonstration of how to build yourself up and then create an organization in a small time, using disruptive tools. Rapid scalability achieved by creating a self replicating model, where volunteers enrol on the website, funding is via the website donations, news is disseminated by the website with as many as 5 new posts a day. Workers organize meetings, activities and campaigns with SMS based alerts, a mobile app for volunteers guides them where needed and a open door policy for candidate selection makes it an attractive proposition for people wanting to participate but unable to find out how to join.

A key factor will be the "on the ground game". Consider Farukhabad, in UP, a seat held by Union Minister Salman Khurshid, who stands accused of among other things, misappropriating funds meant for handicapped relief. Here the AAP candidate withdrew today stating dissatisfaction with funds and workers. He said there were only 1700 volunteers registered and only 5-6 lakh rupee funds available. On the face of it this seems like a no hoper challenge, however, consider the number 1700. Note that these are volunteers. Compare this to the traditional scenario outside other party offices. Are there any volunteers? Are they committed? Are they trained? Are they selfless?

AAP volunteers may be as good or bad as others, but having 1700 volunteers is no small thing. Properly organised, these may reach out to 100 households a day. Thats 170000 houses a day, and with 40 days of campaigning to go...thats 6800000 theres a chance.

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