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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Why Yogesh for MLA - Bommanahalli?

Those following my posts on Facebook might know that I have been all about Yogesh Devaraj and Yogesh Devaraj - MLA for Bommanahalli for the past couple of weeks. Forgive my spamming you with it and please bear and share until May 5th ... have tried to restrict the spamming to FRIENDS in BANGALORE for the vast part but for the occasional rant.

Who is Yogesh? 

Yogesh is a friend who I met through two of my closest friends in Hong Kong way back in 2007. Yogesh was travelling back to India for a vacation and had a 6 hour stop-over. Yogesh wouldn't miss a chance to meet his friends for the world and since I was at home that afternoon, I decided to join and meet them. My first impression of him was as though he was my friend too and not just Pushpa & Deepak's. We ended up chatting for long and he almost ended up missing his flight. He just about made it to the boarding gate on time and pretty soon, I forgot all about him. A few days later, a mail and a Facebook request followed and we stayed in touch for a long time. 

A few more things about him that you might be able to connect with ... Schooling in Marimallappas, Engineering in RVCE, Sr. Manager in CISCO, Born in Mysore, Living in Bangalore since 2007 in Pride Regalia, near Bannerghatta Road, Arekere, Founder President of BANA, Active Volunteer of IAC, AAP [worked full-time for IAC coordinating various activities], BIG Fan of Anna Hazare & Arvind Kejriwal. :-).

He quit his JOB

I heard from friends that he had quit his full-time job and was committing to social causes. I heard about a few things he was doing (An NGO, A School, Fights against Corruption in Government Agencies like BDA and BBMP, founding and leading BANA - A group of RWAs, Organizing Socio-Cultural activities to encourage young talents) and the impacts it was having (again from friends and the occasional update on Facebook). When he got actively involved in IAC, I always admired what he was doing, the courage he was showing, the conviction he had shown to go the whole hog and wanted to join ... but like 90% of the Facebook crowd, I just liked and commented and never did anything to follow-thru in terms of even attending a dharna OR a meeting OR a candle-light.


Things changed on a lazy Sunday Afternoon when I was chilling and checking out Facebook in early Feb/late Jan (Not sure), I saw an update from Yogesh that he was going to contest the coming Assembly Election ... while I was happy for him, I didn't know a lot of what, why, etc. Continued giving free gyaan on various topics around what he should do in his campaign, what he should not do, etc ... all along frustrated with myself that I was not able to do much.


One fine day, Yogesh had had enough with my free gyaan. He pinged me, asked for my no and almost immediately called me back. Spoke about his campaign, what he had been doing (in more detail) and why he wanted to contest the election, his vision and how this would be a game-changer for Bangalore and Karnataka Politics. He also spoke about how he is different from all other candidates including some people with a good-image but who were all talk and little action. He spoke about his sacrifices and the motivation for his sacrifices. He had got a lot from the State and the City and the people here and he wanted to give back to society. More importantly, he saw the clear need for people like him to come into Politics and clean it up from within. If not, he said, the day is not too far when all of us will need to pack our bags and move off to a Europe or a South-East-Asian Country (since US would anyway not be able to handle all of us).

I obviously knew most of what he was saying about Doomsday being near being an active follower of politics and corruption (in the State by the BJP, Congress & JD-S) and in the Center by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and her bunch of servants. And the nagging feeling of not having done anything to fix the mess that we are in and disaster we are moving towards finally got me to say "Yogesh - What you are saying sounds great, how can I help?". He sought help in 2-3 areas that included Social Media Campaign Management and Website Optimization. These were obviously my strengths being an Online and Social Media Analytics Consultant at one of the world's most active company in Social Media and one of the early movers in the eCommerce space (way back in 1995). So, I jumped at the opportunity.


Since that day in the first week of March, a lot has changed.  I have met him and talked to him so many times. I have actually gone on a couple of campaigns with him in his constituency. I have asked him so many questions including many that people in his Facebook Page ask as well as many of my own. I have learnt so many new things about him. So many unsung achievements (schools he has transformed, NGOs that he has given a huge fillip too, enabled a signficant increase in voter registrations in his area) and transformations he has been able to achieve in the last 4 years of full-time public service that I am convinced that come what may, we need to ensure he makes it to the Assembly on May 5th. I don't care if the richest businessman (embroiled in the land-mafia) OR the worst goon is contesting. We need to make sure Yogesh wins and he's going to change not just Bommanahalli, but politics in Bangalore and Karnataka too.


As many of my friends asked me, I asked Yogesh too. So, what are your promises to your electorate? What are you going to do if you win the election. His answer is simple ... people are tired of promises. People need MLAs who can deliver and have shown a track-record of delivering, a track-record of service, someone who they can approach when they need something, someone who will make sure that all the basic needs of a human being (whether rich OR poor) such as Water, Electricity, Roads, Employment & Self-Employment Opportunities (by Skilling, Training & creating Jobs), Health and Hygiene and sufficient well-equipped Civic Amenities and someone who can ensure that there is zero-tolerance to corruption.

He says once I achieve this, then we can think of the moon and the stars and then I'll refer to the manifestos of all these parties. The other thing he says is why second guess what people want ... he seeks opinion from people at every stage in his campaign on what they want and more often than not, he is proven right. The odd occasion when someone brings up a valid point and it makes sense, he is quick to absorb into his vision and also then start talking to various people in relevant roles / departments about how that can be achieved. E.g. One such point that came out from a young graduate who was looking for a better job (he was doing some part-time work) was how are you going to help people like me in terms of opportunities and skilling. He took the youth's number, spent the next few days thinking about this and talked to various friends in companies in a range of sectors and came back with a clear answer and an action plan of what he would do. The kid was not only impressed ... he now volunteers with Yogesh (and yes, he volunteers - not paid employees just called volunteers to feel good about themselves)


I asked several trying questions to him around how will you achieve each of the objectives and there are five key traits which I feel will help him achieve whatever he has set out  to do:

  1. He understands the pulse of the people really well. He knows exactly what the people on the street want since he's talked to 100s of 1000s of people over the last three years in his various community service initiatives and activities. His conversations with people are so wonderful. It almost feels like his pitch is exactly what everyone on the street is looking for. And no, this is not just a pitch. He feels strongly about it.
  2. He is fully committed to this cause. Who would quit a well-paying job and work full-time on various activities that affect society in terms of governance, social-welfare, education for 3-4 years. Most candidates I know are either full-time businessman OR employed in some kind of role.
  3. He has clear ideas on each and every need and how he is going to fulfill it. But, more importantly, he has the humility to seek inputs from the grass-roots and experts, listen to them and implement suggestions when good ones are made.
  4. He totally believes in democracy and empowerment of local bodies. So, while his priorities are the basic needs, he is not going to go and start doing what a corporator OR a Govt Employee has to do. All he will do is to get the team to focus on achieving his vision of meeting all the basic needs and give his 100% to fulfilling it.
  5. He is a doer. Unlike most other well-minded candidates, he is one person who has achieved in his short public career achieved so many things that he's built a huge fan-following across the constituency and actually across the state and even in the US during his time there.

As regards his winnability, he is super-strong in 3-4 wards of the constituency (where he stays and where he has done a lot of good work for people there) and is also gaining a lot of traction in others with strong teams of volunteers getting formed. And every new ward that his team goes after, people are seeing him and realizing that there is still HOPE and the HOPE is leading to a WAVE for CHANGE across BOMMANAHALLI. And more importantly, this time is going to be a 6-way fight (BJP, JD-S, Congress, KJP, BSR and Independents/Small Parties) and even if TOTAL VOTES go up to about 150-180K (from 120K last time), getting about 40-50K votes should get him into the reckoning. Then, it's just a matter of a few more things falling in place and we should have Yogesh as our MLA for Bommanahalli. :-)


My request to my friends and family is this:

  1. Please VOTE for him (irrespective of what your political affiliations are, what your friends tell you about any other candidate, what Social Media tells you about the race being between BJP, Congress and JD-S)
  2. Please spread the WORD between now and 5th May (Talk to at least 3-4 people about Yogesh every day, Share our stories about Yogesh and his campaign on social channels, email to friends, chat with them) - Basically do what it takes to help Yogesh win. DO IT FOR YOURSELF (even if he is not in your constituency, I believe his winning will change KARNATAKA and NATIONAL POLITICS). For more info about Yogesh OR pass on the word, please refer to www.vote4yogesh.org OR www.facebook.com/YogeshForMLA. Use this post if you like.
  3. Please VOLUNTEER and join his campaign team. Believe me, you'll really feel good about yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed the two days when I was part of it and am sure you will too. Don't worry about not being in his constituency ... I am not too. I plan to take part in as many as my JOB and my 3-month old kid allows ... to be fair to her, it is more my wanting to be with the kid than the kid wanting me right now since she's settled down significantly now (touch-wood). :-)
That's it for now. Over to you in terms of Liking and Sharing this post on e-mail, FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other channel that is available. Let's get working!!! :-)

Coming Up: Some interesting stories from the Campaign Trail including one on how not to mess up our Social Media campaign (as one of the other candidates did) :-)

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