These candidates added colour to 2019 Lok Sabha elections
From an auto driver to a 25-year-old engineering graduate, here are some of the interesting candidates contesting in the current Lok Sabha elections.
Anil Joya Meghwal: This 45-year-old auto driver has contested from Jodhpur, against Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav and union minister Gajendra Shekhawat. The presence of the big guns in the field did not however deter him. He feels it is his fundamental right to contest an election. He got 4,000 pamphlets printed for his big fight. A resident of Maderna Colony in Jodhpur, he also urged people through Whatsapp messages to vote for him. This was his first election, he had earlier tried to fight a local body poll.
Aswathi Rajappan: This 25-year-old engineering graduate contested from Ernakulam in Kerala. A Dalit, Rajappan is one of the few transgender candidates who fought 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Rajappan, who identifies as a Dalit intersex person and uses the pronoun ‘ze’ (instead of he or she), joined politics because of the high rates of crime against transgender people and a particularly bad experience during a public consultation on the transgender bill. Rajappan wants to push for the inclusion of not only intersex people – who are born with bodies that do not fit with typical social categories of male or female – but also for the welfare of Dalits, disabled and tribespeople. He runs a local school in his village.
Bishna Ram: This 41-year-old farmer contested from Churu in Rajasthan. He does not own any land of his own. His main aim to fight the election was to increase his popularity. Campaigning through villages, Bishna Ram feels that this way people across Churu would know him, a little known landless farmer, and his ideas. He had contested even in 2018 Assembly elections and polled 8,000 votes. This time he wants to improve his tally so that he is not merely a spoiler but a formidable force.
Pankaj: Twenty-nine-year-old Pankaj contested from Jaipur with a promise of providing employment. He runs an NGO with his friends and has promised employment to all educated youth in the constituency. Pankaj’s grand plan has its roots in his family. His two brothers are unemployed and he says he knows the pain they suffer. A masters in commerce from Rajasthan University, Pankaj has promised that even if he is not elected he would put in place his grand plan.
Prema Ram: Prema Ram, 36, contested from Nagaur in Rajasthan. A farmer by profession, Ram claims to cover nearly 30 villages daily during the campaign. For Ram, Lok Sabha election is a step towards fighting local body an gram panchayat polls. He knows he cannot win but he thinks his campaign would make him a known face in the villages, which would help him later in other polls.
Selva Prakash: Fifty-one-year old Selva Prakash fought an election from Tirunelveli parliamentary constituency. A resident of Muthunagar in Thazaiyoothu, he works in an oil company in Malaysia and lives with his family there. He occasionally visits his hometown Thazaiyoothu. His promise is to improve job opportunities for the youth in Tirunelveli.
Shobhal Singh: 39-year-old Shobhal Singh contested from Jaipur constituency. She has been raising issues of the underprivileged people. An alumnus of Delhi University, Singh had a team of nearly 15 people. She is a housewife but is interested in working for the underprivileged.
Bhavani Nath Valmiki: Valmiki was fielded by Aam Aadmi Party from Prayagraj, held by BJP’s Shyama Charan Gupta. A transgender, Valmiki is the north India head of the Kinnar Akhada, a Hindu monastic order of transpeople. She has said that she could have fought from a reserved seat but chose the high-profile constituency to show that a person tagged as “reserved” can fight in a so-called “general” seat. Valmiki’s poll promise has been employment. Known as Bhavani Maa to her supporters in the Akhada, she says that transgenders have to fight for education and jobs, so an election is not difficult.
Prahlad Tipaniya: Tipaniya is Congress candidate from Dewas but his claim to fame is really a 600-year-old tradition he has kept alive – of singing Kabir to the masses. Performing in remote villages over the last four decades, Tipaniya has become a household name. A Padma Shri recipient, Tipaniya’s election campaign was colourful and musical. Even his party president Rahul Gandhi was mesmerised and shot a video when he went to campaign for him in Dewas. He later tweeted, “I shot this little video of Shri Prahlad Tipaniya, more familiarly known as Sahab Bandgi, our candidate in Devas, MP… He uses folk songs to connect with the audience and his campaigning style is a treat to watch!”
PRAKASH RAJ: Well-known actor Prakash Raj fought as an independent from Bangalore Central constituency. A vocal critic of right wing politics, especially after the death of his friend and journalist Gauri Lankesh, Raj faced two-term BJP MP P C Mohan and Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad. The 53-year-old popular film personality was supported by Aam Aadmi Party, which did not contest in Karnataka. Raj, on his part, lent his star appeal to AAP’s campaign in Delhi.
AMBROSE D’MELLO: He is a social worker who has not uttered a word for almost 15 years. Ambrose D’Mello uses a slate to communicate. Though he has not spoken, 2019 was the ninth election for Ambrose since he took a vow of silence as part of his fight against commercialisation of water in 2005. His current struggle is against demonetisation, as reflected in his affidavit and his lone placard which has the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes pinned to its edges. Ambrose sells books to eke out a living. To campaign, Ambrose used a handheld percussion instrument Tamate and would gather people in Bangalore South constituency.