Toronto Punjabis head to India to campaign for AAP

Toronto, Jan 15 (IANS) Some 90 Punjabis of Indian origin from Canada’s Toronto area are flying to Punjab to campaign for the AAP in the February 4 assembly election, a Canadian daily reported.

“I want to be a part of real change,” said Surinder Mavi, a 31-year-old Brampton resident whose planeload of Aam Aadmi Party election volunteers would depart on Tuesday, the Toronto Star said on Saturday.

The daily quoted Mavi as saying that his political awakening began with his arrival in Canada eight years ago when he realized that bribes were unnecessary and basic rules like stopping at red lights were respected.

“I thought to myself, ‘Why shouldn’t the system work like this in Punjab?'”

Mavi said the Toronto area volunteers were part of a campaign that would see thousands of Indian expatriates arrive in New Delhi on Thursday to help the AAP in the state election, the daily said.

Mavi would ride an AAP campaign bus to rally support in 16 of Punjab’s largest constituencies.

Punjab will elect 117 legislators. The battle is expected to be three-way, with the ruling Akali Dal-BJP coalition challenged by the Congress and the AAP.

In 2014, after landing a job as a senior technical service analyst at a major Canadian bank, Mavi decided it was time to act. He joined the Canadian branch of AAP.

The Star quoted Kanta Murali, an expert on Indian politics at the University of Toronto, as saying that the Punjab battle would be “a good bellwether for the effect demonetisation has had” on Indians.

Azad Kaushik, Canadian president of the Overseas Friends of BJP, admitted to “an anti-incumbency factor” in Punjab.

But he told the Star over phone from Delhi, where he was visiting, that the BJP’s economic record would keep its state coalition in power.

Kaushik also accused the AAP of having “failed miserably” in Delhi, which the AAP rules.

“Polls in the last several months have indicated widely different results. But all show the AAP having a significant impact (in Punjab),” the Canadian daily said.

Mavi, whose parents live in Punjab, said the Toronto volunteers would largely be staying with family and relatives as they campaign for the AAP.

–IANS

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