Sher Mohammed Khan, a rickshaw-puller in his 50s from Meerut, is on a roll these days. Seated atop his unique bicycle – that is 12 feet long and 6 feet tall -- Khan canvasses for the Samajwadi Party (SP) and desperately wants to see chief minister Akhilesh Yadav play his second innings.
Khan’s 15,000km cycle yatra, covering Amroha, Rampur, Faizabad, Ayodhya, Lucknow and other neighbouring districts, is a unique journey in itself
He does not pedal the cycle – in fact, he actually can’t as the cycle is too huge. It’s his son, Soni Khan, on a bike who pulls the cycle with a rope, drawing hundreds of curious onlookers everywhere they go.
Khan’s mission began in early 2016, when he decided to assemble a giant cycle to canvass for the SP. But, assembling a cycle of this dimension was not easy as parts were not available in the market. It was then that he decided to make one himself.
“I started casting the parts, including the tyres, rims, spokes, chassis, handle -- everything,” Khan told HT in state capital Lucknow.
Among all the parts, he said, making the tyres and the rim was the toughest.
It took him nearly six months to get the rims made, which, he said, were made by joining two different rims of a rickshaw.
He used a similar technique to make the tyres. And there it was, ready for the ride just a couple of months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls. The cycle cost him Rs 60,000.
Khan began his mission from Meerut, and covered almost all constituencies there.
“I exhorted people to bring the SP back to power if they want to see their state developed,” said Khan, who was on his way back to Meerut via Lucknow.
During his journey, he also met with an accident in Rampur that left his left leg injured. “My father took rest for almost a week and then begin with his journey again,” Soni Khan said.
Soni said the feeling throughout the campaign was heartening as people extended a warm welcome to them wherever they went.
“People took selfies, videos, photos with us. I am really thankful to them for making us celebrities,” said Soni.
In 2011, Sher Khan, who is also a big fan of Bollywood filmstar Dharmendra, pedalled his rickshaw from Meerut to Mumbai to meet the actor during the shoot of Yamla Pagla Deewana, which featured Dharmendra and his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol.
A delighted Dharmendra, in fact, gave Sher Khan a small role in the movie as a return gesture.