Even as the Aam Aadmi Party is yet to officially declare Kumar Vishwas as its candidate for the Amethi Lok Sabha seat, another ‘aam aadmi’ of the area has started pitching himself as the party’s candidate.
Unlike Vishwas, who visits the area with a handful of supporters, 62-year-old Mahilal Vishwakarma sets off on his bicycle, adorned with a jhola full of pamphlets, an AAP poster and brooms hanging by its sides, asking people to vote for the jhadu.
“I am the real aam aadmi of this area. Kumar has come from outside,” says Vishwakarma. “How can AAP give a ticket to an outsider without the consent of the people from this area? I can guarantee that if he contests, he will not even get his security deposit back from the Election Commission.”
This is not the first time Vishwakarma is preparing for an electoral battle. The ironsmith from Amethi’s Hargaon village had contested the 2009 general election against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as an independent candidate. Unlike most people in Amethi, who share an emotional bond with the Gandhi family, Vishwakarma feels that the first family of India has only looted and cheated the people. He had got 1,700 votes.
These days, Vishwakarma starts his day by 8:30 each morning. The AAP supporter and self-proclaimed Amethi candidate pedals his way from one village to the other. At every village, he meets people in the markets and public squares and advertises his manifesto, which is scribbled on a piece of paper. He does not take a break until the sun sets.
When dna met him at Jamo village, this lone aam aadmi crusader was trying to convince people that he is the ‘real’ AAP candidate. AAP workers in Amethi acknowledge that Vishwakarma has been projecting himself as the party’s candidate, but are not much bothered by his antics. “Vishwakarma makes noises at the time of every election. He brings a fun element in the elections here,” said Ram Mohan, a villager.
Outside his shop in Hargaon village, Vishwakarma has put up a poster in which he shares space with AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal. “Now there is a party here to represent the common man and the new party cannot find a better candidate than me,” he says.
All of us here know that he (Vishwakarma) will not win. Only his relatives will vote for him. But we like to come out of our shops to watch him campaign,” said shopkeeper Dinesh Dwivedi.
Vishwakarma shrugs these assessments aside and is determined to meet Kejriwal. “I plan to meet Kejriwal before the party makes a formal announcement of its candidate. It will be either Mahilal Vishwakarma or Rahul Gandhi in this area,” he asserts.