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Million Man Marks

Million Man Marks

How the NaMo election campaign harnessed its legion of volunteers

Million Man Marks Priyanka Rai

In October 2013, almost six months before the Lok Sabha polls, over 7,000 students from India’s top colleges, most of them from IITs and IIMs across India, were busy participating in a new-age political meet. They called it Manthan (the churn). There were fluorescent lights, dance beats, PowerPoint presentations, pumping bass and even a headlining act (like at any rock music festival) in the form of a speech by then prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.

Indeed, Manthan, a platform to involve the nation’s college-going population in agenda-setting for the general elections of 2014, hit the bull’s eye when Modi himself agr­eed to address the concluding session in New Delhi’s Thyagaraj Sports Complex. At that stage, Manthan was just four months old. It all started in June 2013 when six young professionals, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a software engineer and two investment bankers began discussing the impending Lok Sabha polls at a restaurant table. The common refrain that day was the need to create a model for accountable government. The result: Citizens for Accountable Govern­ance (CAG), an organisation helmed by young professionals who desired change and accountability.

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