It’s rare to have just five people accompanying a candidate to file nomination papers. But that is what happened with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Nagpur Anjali Damania on Saturday.
Her rivals, Nitin Gadkari of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Vilas Muttemwar of the Congress, a seven-time MP, had thousands of people accompanying them to the Collector’s office when they filed their documents.
Pushing through the crowds to file her nomination papers was Ms. Damania, accompanied by her husband, lawyer, campaign chief and two party workers.
Mobilising people on the day of nomination “is a criminal waste of time and money,” the anti-corruption activist told this reporter.
The strength of our party will be evident on the day of polling, she said.
Ms. Damania, 45, AAP-Maharashtra convener and pathologist from Bandra, Mumbai, was born and brought up in a family professing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology.
“I respect the RSS. I have always believed that the RSS worked for the people and not for any individual. My father was a hardcore RSS supporter, and I was brought up in that atmosphere, but I was never directly linked to the RSS,” Ms. Damania said.
However, the AAP activist, who has been parachuted from Mumbai to take on Mr. Gadkari after she accused him of not pursuing corruption-related cases, said she felt let down by the RSS “for standing in support of people like Nitin Gadkari,” and alleged that some “senior RSS people” had asked her “not to contest against Gadkari.”
She quickly added, “Every organisation has both good and bad people. Even in the RSS-BJP, a section of people are opposed to Gadkari and are working against him.”
Dissident AAP member Jammu Anand and activist Rupa Kulkarni, who were being considered for Nagpur by the party, have accused AAP of acting like traditional political parties by “parachuting a candidate.”
In response, Ms. Damania said, “When Narendra Modi contests from Varanasi, no one raises a single question, but when I decide to contest from Nagpur, I become an outsider,” and added that she was getting a “tremendous response” from the people of Nagpur.
There is little doubt that the AAP has caught the imagination of young people.