Nonresident Indians Play Major Role in Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi Campaign


During the month of November, Mohan Thirumalai, an information systems manager at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, would pick up his phone at his home in Alabama around 10 p.m. and dial a random number in Delhi, the first of around 60 calls he would make each night.

When someone answered the phone, Mr. Thirumalai, 35, asked the same question every time: “Kya aap jharu ki upar button dabadenge? (Will you vote for the broom?)”

The broom is the official symbol of the Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, Party, meant to signify the new party’s intent to clear out the corruption that plagues India. Its message has compelled Mr. Thirumalai, a native of Chennai, and dozens of Indian citizens living in the United States and elsewhere around the world to reach out to voters on behalf of Aam Aadmi before Delhi state elections are held on Wednesday.

Many of these overseas Indians, also known as nonresident Indians, are participating in a political campaign for the first time in their homeland, attracted by Aam Aadmi’s drive to clean up Indian politics. In 2011, the anticorruption activist Anna Hazare’s hunger strike to demand transparency in India’s government prompted a series of youth protests in Indian urban centers. While Mr. Hazare chose not to run for office, his top aide, Arvind Kejriwal, founded the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012 with the hopes of putting Mr. Hazare’s ideals into action….

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