Twenty eight-year-old year old Santosh Koli, who was critically injured after being hit by a speeding car on Sunday afternoon, is one of Aam Aadmi Party founder Arvind Kejriwal's oldest associates.
Koli was one of the first employees at Parivartan- the NGO that Kejriwal co- founded in late 2002, marking the entry of Kejriwal, then an Indian Revenue Services officer, into social work. The organisation started functioning from a rented accommodation in North East Delhi’s Sundar Nagri area, where Koli resides.
“With her mother, she used to visit grievance redress camps outside the office of the Delhi Vidyut Board. Gradually, she showed interest and became part of the team,” said Rajeev Kumar, who worked with the organisation in its early years. Over the next few years, Koli gained popularity in her locality as the short, dark, girl who would address people’s grievances on the public distribution system and other government welfare schemes.
Friends and aides know Koli for her feisty nature. In 2005, local goons attacked her twice with blades and surgical knives. She got stitches on her neck but was back to work. “There was lot of tension. He parents objected to her working with us because of the imminent threat. But she resisted the pressure,” said Ramashray, a Parivartan employee.
When Parivartan expanded its work ambit to local self governance, Koli lobbied with local political leaders of nearby assembly constituencies on behalf of the NGO.
Since 2006, she started dividing her time between Parivartan and Public Cause Research Foundation- the NGO Kejriwal co- founded to work for the cause of the Right to Information Act. As Kejriwal shifted focus to Jan Lokpal movement and then took the political plunge, Koli remained one his most trusted lieutenants.
Due to the time she spent working in her locality, Koli became good at mobilizing crowds - something she did for all of AAP’s street protests.
During his latest fast in April this year to protest the hike in power bills, Kejriwal stayed put at Koli’s house in Sundar Nagri. Koli’s stays here with her father who works as a labourer in a garment factory and mother, who is employed with an NGO.
Given her popularity among locals, AAP declared her as the party candidate from North East Delhi’s Seemapuri constituency, a reserved seat. “People listen with apt attention with she speaks in her husky voice,” said Ramashray.
AAP claimed that for the last few weeks, Koli was getting threats on phone and Sunday’s incident might be a planned attack on Koli. “Right now, we cannot rule out anything,” said AAP leader Manish Sisodia.
Updated Date: Jul 01, 2013 13:19:05 IST