Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Memoir: A Micro Political Campaign

An Introduction
The loss of the presidential elections to MDP was not a surprise considering the political gamble that was going on, but it shocked many of us to a state of numbness and despair.
It was at this point, I developed a strong desire to get into the core of an election process and understand what really happens in an election, particularly what determines whether you lose or win an election.
I believe that no period in Maldives history has witnessed mass participation in a political struggle as we did after the 8th February coup. Ordinary citizens had made it their daily business to fight for democracy. The pulse of the people, who dreamt of a better life for themselves and for their children, depended on MDP, to come back to power and realize their lost or rather snatched dream.
The personal experience; The Early Phase
On declaring to my immediate family that I wanted to sign up to MDP as a member and then contest in the primaries, I received a Luke warm response.
‘Why do you want to do this?’
‘No need to dig your own grave’
‘Politics is dirty, you are not cut for politics, you are psychologist do your thing’
‘Where is the money? Who will fund you?’
‘As if MDP wants you! They will not welcome you’
‘You have better things to do in life’
‘Go speak to the elders in the family and see whether they are with you first’
‘Speak to your brothers’
‘Go ahead, if this is what Allah wills for you it will happen, if not be ready to face failure’
Well. My personality is such that I will do what I set out to do. This has been me as I know myself to be. I was sure that every member in the family will know that their sister will do exactly as she thinks fit, and there would be really nothing they could do to stop me from materializing an ambition I have set out to achieve. Meanwhile, I also knew if I fell those very arms of my siblings would support me, hold me and help me in my recovery.
So what did I have to lose? I believed in myself. I honestly thought I could serve this nation and its people through the MDP vision; which I must admit is my dream now, so there was no other choice for me, really. MDP has become my pulse and I am sure this will be one fixed pulse!
I announced on fb like a joke that I was thinking of contesting in the primaries. I was pleasantly tickled with the responses I was getting. I realized that there were many people who thought I could be a good candidate for the Majlis, making it definitely more than one person (that person being just me) who now believed I can make a good MP.
On day 2, a lovely young lady (whom I would from hence forth call as LYL) in boxed me saying ;
‘Are you really serious? If you are why do we not sit and have a chat?’
Another friend who was living abroad in boxed me and said,
‘If you are thinking of contesting why not contest from Henveiru Dhekunu, which is T09, your own constituency, I have already spoken to people around the area and they have expressed support, they hold you in high regard and respect. Henveiru Dhekunu that’s the best constituency for you’
LYL met me the next day. We had a chat. I told her I was serious. I told her I did not have a sponsor. I told her I did not know where to contest from; the only place I could think of was Henveiru Dhekunu, the area in which I grew up in. I also told her I needed the blessing of the MDP leadership and that I wanted to meet Anni. I asked LYL, what if I did not get the blessing of the senior leadership, could I then contest. Would that not be wrong? LYL was a mature lady. She said,
‘You can contest, from where you want to contest, you have to follow the party rules, that’s all’
Ahem. She was right, but was I bold enough to seriously venture out?
I told LYL I will contest. I needed her support.
I sms’ed Anni , requesting for a meeting.  He asked me to come and meet him at Kenereege.
 I wanted a one to one meeting.
I had to tell him why I wanted to contest. I wanted to tell him how much I was grieved because he lost the presidential election. I wanted to tell him that seeing him go to the oath taking ceremony of his rival had made a nation learn how to deal with failure.
 Obviously I had many things I wanted to tell him.
What I really had to tell him was I wanted to contest from Henveiru Dhekunu.
That, I was soon beginning to realize could become a sour spot for me. One of the senior MDP members was a sitting MP from the constituency.
A member of my family had said on this matter,
‘You have to know the dynamics, you have to know what this means, you have to know there are certain things you can do, you cannot do...Politics….is something else..Here people will put up their mighty fight to defend what they want….and you are just a novice’
Alright, I understood, but I told him,’ he has not yet announced his desire to contest for the parliament for this term? Or well….’
I guess I did not get the gist of the message; maybe I did not really want to know. May be just may be something even more strange was cooking in my mind.
When I met Anni, I was overjoyed. I understand this to be a common euphoric experience to many who considers him to be a national hero. Unfortunately, a number of senior MDP leaders were present at kenereege when I went in. He gently apologized and said;
‘Hope you do not mind that we meet like this, there are others...’
I nodded. I was sort of not ready for this meeting and very soon felt like the odd one out but I guess I managed to utter;
‘It’s OK’
I was introduced to the group and Anni was kind enough to tell them that I was interested in contesting in the MDP primaries. I am sure there was no resistance to the idea. In fact the discussion slipped to where I could contest from. Male’ atoll was suggested; thulusdhoo dhaaira and Maria Didi even volunteered to help me get some votes if I was to contest from this constituency.
I must say, I however could not muster the courage to say where I wanted to contest from. I was thinking, without a sponsor how could I go to Thulusdhoo, I did not know a soul from that island, I have not been to that island in the past 12 years, I did not have the resources to contest from the suggested or discussed constituencies.
In that instance I was unable to voice out my thoughts, I was keen on hearing what others had to say. However, I did ask how about contesting from Male’? If  I remember right the general feeling was from every constituency of Male’ there already were several people who wanted to contest. The discussion then moved on to supporting the local council elections. After 15 minutes I left Kenereege, a bit confused but relaxed. Relaxed because I did not think anyone in the senior leadership was un accepting of me or my wish to contest in the party primaries.
After I reached home I sent one more sms to Anni saying I hope he will give me is blessings even if I contested from Henveiru Dhekunu. I wrote I was sure I will have his blessings.
A little later a friendly sitting MP called me and said, you are of course most welcome to contest but prove your political worth by getting at least 150 new members to sign for the party. I giggled and said I will get that many signatures, of course.
By now few things were clear to me.
1.     I am contesting in the MDP majlis primaries.
2.     I had decided my constituency would be Henveiru Dhekunu.
I wrote a status on fb that I needed volunteers to help me with my campaign. Up to now, it was just LYL who has met me and said that I had her support.
The night I called for the meeting of volunteers at least 6 people joined in. I was surprised. We strategized and launched our campaign.

With a wallet size of less than MVR 10, 000/- I had thought of running a micro political campaign. I had 6 volunteers, 90% of whom were people whom I knew through social media and had met for the first time.

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