Bangalore saw brisk political activity for a sleepy Saturday as Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi interacted with young students and entrepreneurs at the Palace Grounds in the heart of the city. Simultaneously, at the Press Club - a modest venue in comparison - Aam Aadmi Party leaders distributed membership forms.
Mr Gandhi met 250 students from all over the country to seek direct feedback from people for his party's manifesto for the national elections, due by May. Aishwarya Thilak, a student of Political Science from Bangalore's Mount Carmel College, was among the students to receive the certificate of participation at the event.
The first-time voter says the face-to-face interaction was brainstorming and very interesting.
"I think with the RTI and now the Aam Aadmi Party we are seeing several changes in the political scene in India. So something like this where we get to suggest on what should go into manifesto is a great thing. My suggestion was to privatise government schools to private sector. Let the funding come from the government but then quality check with NGPs and private sector." Aishwarya said.
Some other youth from Bangalore were willing to participate in the election process itself as volunteers if not as contestants. Like Janki, alumni of IIT Bombay and a software professional in the city, who has currently taken a sabbatical for a year to support AAP ahead of elections.
"I wanted to take a break and I wanted to contribute to the country in a different way. This is a brilliant movement and like V Balakrishnan said this is one of the best start-ups and I wanted to be a part of it" she said.
Karnataka, especially Bangalore, is an interesting turf for political parties because surveys reflect that the people here are politically very aware. The BJP has a stronghold here as opposed to any other state in the South, the state has voted for the Congress this time. After Delhi, it appears that Bangalore city has the highest number of members for AAP. The enrollment figure from both online registrations and membership form submission has touched nearly one lakh from Karnataka, of which more than 50,000 are from Bangalore alone.