The Campaign Lens

By Nitya Rao

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1023

For the past two months, I have observed Arvind Kejriwal on roadshows and jansabhas across India. In Chandigarh, Bangalore and Amethi, his speeches were focussed on corruption issues, and free of religious references.

It was a different Kejriwal I saw in Banaras. His forehead was smeared in ash. He performed aarti on the Ganga almost every other day. At his jansabhas, he chanted “Har Har Mahadev” before he started speaking. It was interesting to see how his vocabulary and appearance had been tailored to suit the holy city.

These pictures were made mostly during the penultimate day of campaigning, when the Aam Aadmi Party took out a massive roadshow that had a visible minority presence.

The night campaigning ended, I was sitting with a friend on the steps of Assi Ghat when suddenly there was a slight commotion behind us. We turned around to see Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia walking down the steps of the ghat towards us.

For two months I had been following Kejriwal across the country waiting for an opportunity to meet him. When the moment finally arrived, all I could manage was something like “Oh God! What are you doing here?”

My friend regained her composure more quickly. While she introduced us and we wished him luck, I fumbled with my camera settings and managed to make one last frame before he was drowned in a sea of people.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1005Aap Ki Kranti, the Aam Aadmi Party’s weekly newsletter, was distributed every morning to Banaras’ citizens. The newsletter has city-specific content and is a critical part of the party mechanism of informing prospective voters.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1008 Aam Aadmi Party Volunteers distribute copies of Aap Ki Kranti at Anand Park near Durgakund temple.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1010The Aam Aadmi Party roadshow on the second-last day of campaigning near Banaras Hindu University saw minorities express their support very openly for the party.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1017 Aam Aadmi Party supporters from the roadshow near Assi Ghat in Banaras.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1011The Aam Aadmi Party roadshow on the second-last day of campaigning near Banaras Hindu University saw minorities express their support very openly for the party.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1002Arvind Kejriwal offering aarti at Rajendra Prasad Ghat on the Ganga.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1021Actor, Javed Jaffrey contesting on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket from Lucknow greets supporters at Assi Ghat. To his left is Manish Sisodia, member national executive committee of the party.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1019Scenes from the roadshow near Assi Ghat in Banaras.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1014Former journalist, Shazia Ilmi, contesting on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1025Aam Aadmi Party supporters listen to Kejriwal making his final campaign speech in Banaras

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1024Priya Dutt, the Congress candidate and sitting member of parliament from Mumbai North Central campaigning for Banaras’ Congress candidate Ajai Rai, who was not present. Dutt addressed a small group of women and urged them to vote for the Congress Party.

KEJRIWAL_BANARAS_AAPCAMPAIGN-1026Arvind Kejriwal at Assi Ghat in Banaras.

THE CAMPAIGN LENS MAP

Nitya Rao is an independent Indian photojournalist based in Boston.  She is interested in documenting political and human interest stories, and is currently traveling across India to capture the mood of the country as it conducts its 16th Lok Sabha election.

To explore her previous photo-essays, click on the adjoining map.

Her aim is to create a traveling exhibit, which will illustrate the changing face of politics in India. Nitya has worked as a reporter for Outlook, The Indian Express and Thomson Reuters, and holds a Masters degree in Photojournalism from Boston University.

To find out where she’s heading next follow her @niftyindex

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