Kejri's people tweak caps to keep within law

Many Aam Aadmi Party volunteers will have to junk the trademark ‘Mein aam aadmi hoon’ caps on Wednesday as election rules do not allow canvassing for votes near polling booths.

The party has now ordered one lakh new caps so that its volunteers and workers wear the headgear that would remind voters of the characteristic Aam Aadmi Party caps, but without breaking the election code of conduct.

“All political parties including us received an advisory to refrain from wearing a party symbol or advertising the party’s name,” party member Dilip Pandey said. The party has tasked him with distributing the one lakh caps — issued in two new sets.

“We have a set of plain caps and another set of caps with patriotic messages such as ‘mujhe chahiye Jan Lokpal’ on one side and ‘mujhe chahiye Swaraj’ on the other side,” Pandey said.

The party sought a written permission from the Election Commission after getting the advisory.

“We are aware of the rules and we like preparing in advance,” Devinder Kumar Sehrawat said. He is contesting elections for the first time from Bijwasan constituency on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket. He said the new caps have already reached them.

Electoral politics largely depends on perceptions built around symbols. And in the absence of the party’s name or its symbol from caps, even a play of words around the party’s long standing demands for Jan Lokpal is set to ring a bell.

On the polling day political parties are allowed to set up desks outside a 100-metre periphery of the booths. Party workers help find out voters’ names on the electoral rolls, hand out voting slips if they have not got one, and direct them to designated polling booths.

“It is often seen as their last chance of earning goodwill,” 30-year-old Patparganj resident Shekhar Mishra said.

Shekhar said the conspicuous presence of Gandhian caps on polling day would show the party’s involvement and help them stand out among other party workers.

During Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption protest at Jantar Mantar here, the Gandhian caps with ‘I am Anna’ slogans stood out. Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal carried forward the trend with minor changes as stressing on the party’s name instead of Anna.

“The new caps, like the old ones, are not made from cloth, but from the same material used in making bags for superstores,” said party member Dilip Pandey. “It weighs only 70 grams.”

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