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Impressions by Subodh Ghildiyal
Protest against far-right AfD
Tired from a long train journey that started early that winter morning, I arrived in Stuttgart, as part of a group of Indian journalists, slightly disoriented. Full of anticipation at what awaited the next day, at the AFD convention, I peeled off from the rest of the group and walked along a rail line to a busy and buzzy neighborhood. It was a walk to nowhere when I suddenly came across an announcement on a board outside a bar on which all I could read was AFD. It rang a bell and I rushed in. And instantly captivated by what I saw inside, i ended up spending four hours there. It was an anarchist bar of sorts which was also the preparatory lab for protests that members planned for the AFD convention at Messe auditorium near airport the next morning. I ate the community, contributory food there, laughed at by people around for putting a high amount of five euros in the box!! I just said they deserved it for their decent work. I sat there talking to youngsters who rolled joints and belched profanities at AFD. They were a nice tolerant bunch who shared a vision of their country and saw an early threat to it from the emerging far-right. There were university students and a professor, a computer engineer who spoke good English, and a gardener from Munich who struggled with English but managed to convey his point. I was mesmerized by what I was seeing. Inside the bigger hall, they were painting banners and placards; and did not want to be photographed. They looked like young university students. Pretty girls and handsome boys. Full of energy and determination. I drank a few bottles of cheap beer for a payment, wanting to make as much contribution to their kitty as I could. And I gorged on all they had to say. I quit with the hope of seeing them next morning. At Messe, it was a big protest and I quickly knew that my friends at the bar had been successful. I managed to wade in through the crowd and was let in by the Police on showing my press card. A quick call to the AFD coordinators who had the list of accredited journalists helped my cause. I had applied for the accreditation in advance with the help of two good German journalists. And then at the conference, I saw the energy of the fledgling movement which resented being called Far-right but was little else from what I gathered by talking to leaders and delegates who had gathered from all over Germany. By the evening, I had a first-hand experience of what was AFD and where it was headed and what were the impulses that drove some people to back its call. I left a contended man, having seen a global trend from close, that till then I was only reading in newspapers from afar.