Ahmedabad: Usually, in elec crorepati, politicians make opulent statements, but in the 2022 Gujarat assembly poll, 40 candidates on the brink of penury have put their mouths where the money is to prove a point. These candidates are contesting as a mark of protest because they believe they have been wronged in some way Of these, 10 have declared zero income and zero assets in their affidavits.
Prominent candidates have so much money in their war chests that the lids can’t be closed. But the contestants who can count merely on principles are at the mercy of others to meet the cost of canvassing.
Mahendra Patni ( 35 ) sells vegetables and has declared zero income and assets in his nomination papers as a candidate for the Gandhinagar North seat. He deposited the statutory Rs 5.000 fee in the form of 5,000 Re1 coins. ” When the Gandhinagar Capital railway station was constructed, our shanties were demolished.
Many were not rehabilitated. Standing for election is my way of protesting, ” Patni said. He added that he will collect money from roadside vendors to fund his campaign.
Manju Pingla ( 39 ), who was retrenched five months ago from her job as a daily wager of the Khambhaliya municipality, is contesting from the Khambhaliya seat. She has declared a set of Rs 392. She said she was dragged away from outside the municipality building when she staged a dharna. She later ascended a landmark tower to commit suicide but was persuaded to climb down. ” People told me that my plight will be known far and wide if I contest the election, ” said Pingla.
Rajesh Vaghela ( 54 ), a retired cab driver, is contesting from the Ellisbridge seat. He plans to seek a contribution of Rs 10 from every prospective donor. Vaghela said that he spends his free time reading newspapers and visiting libraries. ” My entire savings of Rs 5,000 was paid as the election deposit. I am in the fray to highlight the need for better education and infrastructure, ” he said.