Venkateswar Raju and four of his friends set out for a drive of about 1,800 km from here to Varanasi by car on Saturday morning.

The techies, based in Bangalore and volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), will be campaigning for the next eight days for their leader Arvind Kejriwal, who is locked in an electoral battle with Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The five friends, who decided to drive because they did not get train tickets, will be joining about 100 AAP volunteers from Bangalore and rest of Karnataka who are already there. “We have all taken leave from work for this campaign,” said Mr. Raju, who co-ordinated campaign in Bommanahalli area ahead of the April 17 polling for the Lok Sabha elections here.At SewapuriKundan Singh, a bank employee in Bangalore who has taken a two-year break from work, is already campaigning in the Sewapuri Assembly segment in the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.

“We are 22 people in my group. We do door-to-door campaign in the morning in this largely rural pocket and do group activities in the evening,” he told The Hindu, and added that most Karnataka volunteers were working in the segment.

Interestingly, some of the candidates who contested in the polls in Karnataka are now campaigning in Varanasi. While writer and former Minister B.T. Lalitha Naik (who contested from Gulbarga) is already there, the former chief financial officer of Infosys V. Balakrishnan (who contested from Bangalore Central) is set to join her in the coming week, said Prithvi Reddy, national executive member of the AAP.

“We expect about 400 to 600 people from Karnataka to be here by May 6,” AAP State convener Siddharth Sharma told The Hindu from Varanasi. Three to four batches had already reached and more were on the way, he added.‘Calling campaign’Apart from those who are present in Varanasi, a large number of volunteers from Karnataka are pitching in with ‘Calling Campaign’ where supporters contact voters in Varanasi over phone to canvass for the party nominees through toll-free numbers, Mr. Sharma said.

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