| AAP members participate in a rally in Guwahati. Picture by UB Photos |
The AAP and Trinamul candidates fighting for the Gauhati Lok Sabha seat are taking the low-cost route to reach out to voters.
Unlike other parties using cars and planning glitzy campaigns, the two parties are using rickshaws, bicycles and auto-rickshaws to campaign.
AAP campaign team leaders said around 100 rickshaw-pullers voluntarily came forward to offer the use of their rickshaws for their candidate, Pranjal Bordoloi.
Trinamul members said financial constraints have compelled them to use tempos and bicycles.
“Soon after we made a public appeal to help us in our campaign, a rickshaw-puller, Raj Kumar Rai, had come forward and allowed us to use his rickshaw for campaign. Soon, other rickshaw-pullers came forward and started helping us, free of charge,” a member of the AAP campaign committee, Akash Dutta, told The Telegraph today.
“Even auto-rickshaw owners are allowing us to use their vehicles for our posters free of cost. They charge advertising agencies nearly Rs 200 a month for using their vehicles for advertisements but some 300 drivers are helping us for free. Many came forward as Arup Bordoloi, the father of our candidate, Pranjal Bordoloi, was one of the first auto-rickshaw drivers in Guwahati,” Dutta said.
Those leading the AAP campaign committee include Sabnam Sinha, Pranjal Deka, Ritesh Jaiswal, Akash Mitra, Suman Mahapatra, Jitender Sharma and Mridul Das, among others, who co-ordinate with other members for campaigning with the least possible expense.
Most of them work in private companies and volunteer for AAP on Saturdays and Sundays.
Trinamul state president Dwipen Pathak said they had asked their workers to use tempos and bicycles as they could not afford to hire cars like other parties for campaigning.
“We have not received any money from our high command and so I am spending money from my pocket and whatever donations I am getting from others. As a result, we have no option but to cut our expenses for campaigning. We are using tempos (three-wheelers with eight-person sitting capacity) in Guwahati and using bicycles in the villages,” Pathak said.
Trinamul is contesting 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam and it has fielded veteran Assamese film actor Biju Phukan in Gauhati. “We are unable to organise more meetings for funds constraints. So our members in the villages are doing door to door on their bicycles,” he said.
As the poll date for Gauhati is nearing, bigger parties like the Congress, BJP and AGP are hiring cars, mostly SUVs for campaigning. The car–for-rent business has shot up by 50 to 100 per cent. A few people in this business said SUVs such as Boleros, Scorpios, Xylos and Innovas are in demand in this election.