Youngsters at the AAP office in Ranchi call up voters to garner support for Amanullah Aman on Sunday. (Prashant Mitra)
Age doesn’t grant them the right to adult franchise yet, but nothing can fail their zeal to be a part of this elaborate aam aadmi carnival called general elections.
Some 40 Ranchi schoolboys — aged between 15 and 17 years — have been roped in by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to tele-campaign for its Ranchi nominee Amanullah Aman.
The teen brigade assembles at Swagat Banquet Hall, situated behind BIT-Mesra’s Extension Centre in Lalpur, at 7am sharp. They are glued to telephones for 12 hours thence trying to convince voters.
Though the party’s IT campaign in-charge Minhaz Alam said the boys offered their service voluntarily, the campaigners claimed otherwise.
“Every morning, we receive Rs 100 talktime on our phones. Once we reach the venue, we are given a list of 300 phone numbers. Throughout the day, each of us calls up these numbers and canvasses for Amanji. We also have to write down remarks after the call. At the end of the day, we get Rs 100,” said one of the students.
Alam, however, said: “The boys have voluntarily offered to campaign for Amanji. They come with their own mobile phones and all expenses are borne by them. We only hand over a list of phone numbers and at times offer lunch to these children. ”
Alam and the campaigners may differ on whose pocket is feeling the campaign pinch, but they agree on what to be said over phone while campaigning. Adjectives like “Jharkhand ka beta”, “achhe charitrawala” and “padha likha aadmi” are used too often.
But, the boys complain that many voters think they are making prank calls.
“The response has been mixed. At times people simply hang up on us, but then again there are residents who assure us that they will vote for AAP,” said one of the teen tele-caller-cum-campaigner.
On what the voter pulse is like, Aman’s campaign manager Mohammed Javed oozed confidence.
“People are supporting us. A Malaysian newspaper has compared Kejriwal with Barack Obama. Our Aman bhai is his counterpart in Jharkhand. He will bring positive changes,” Javed added.
Whether his reading is right or not only time will say, but in the meantime these 40 schoolboys are utilising their poll holidays well to earn some extra bucks.
Ranchi goes to vote on April 17 and till that time many schools in the capital will remain closed.