It was his first attempt in the hurly burly world of electoral politics, but a tribal tea vendor in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district achived his dream of becoming a village sarpanch.
Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's success as tea vendor in politics, Mukesh Uikey, 30, a resident of tribal-dominated Niwari village in Betul district, about 175km south from Bhopal, has overcome all hurdles, besting four rivals in the February 5 rural polls to become the sarpanch.
Uikey said that the only thought that persisted in his mind was "if a tea vendor like Narendra Modi could become the Prime Minister of the country, why he, a tribal, couldn't become sarpanch of a village."
"After Narendra Modiji became PM, I shared my ambition with family members and friends about contesting election from my village," Uikey told Hindustan Times.
"They all supported me and encouraged me to contest the election. I never thought that I will get such a huge support from my village."
Uikey defeated his nearest rival by a huge margin of 305 votes--the village has a total of 1,800 voters.
The sarpanch-elect, however, has no plans to join any political party.
"I am impressed by Modiji’s success, not by his political party," he said.
"I have become sarpanch of my village to serve the people. I don’t want to waste my time by joining political parties. The residents of my village have shown faith in me. Now, I have to prove myself."
The impoverished tea vendor lives in a joint family. All the members in his family including his wife are daily wage earners.
Uikey, who has been running a tea stall—Damdam Tea Stall—at Chicholi market for past five years, said he would never close it down as it was is his real identity and his livelihood.
"I have been elected as Sarpanch for the development of village. My motive is not earning money like others. I am happy with my tea stall and I earn as much as I could fulfill desire of my family members," Uikey wants to ensure that he can provide proper education to his two daughters.
"I could not continue my studies because of my family problem, but I would ensure that my daughters get higher education," said Uikey, who has studied till Class 9.