MP: For this couple, contesting polls a way to highlight issues of the poor

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Jabalpur/Bhopal
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2016 19:55 IST
Shashi Stela at her roadside eatery on a square near Jabalpur railway station on Wednesday. (HT photo)

Shashi Stela, who runs a roadside eatery on a handcart along with her husband near Jabalpur railway station, took everyone by surprise on Tuesday when she filed her nomination for the Rajya Sabha election from Madhya Pradesh from the Bharatiya Gareeb Party.

In her affidavit, the 48-year-old, Class 12 pass-out mentioned that she has Rs 6,100 worth moveable property and no immovable property. She has filled most of the options as “not applicable”.

Sources, however, said Stela’s nomination is likely to be rejected as her name was not proposed by any lawmaker, a required condition for the RS election.

When HT spoke to Stela and her husband, Stanley Lewis, in Jabalpur, it emerged the couple have been contesting various elections knowing they would lose. But at the same time, according to them, it sends a message: The poor of the country need representation in the decision-making.

“Poor need to be involved in the decision-making and there should be a voice that works for their cause. There are many poor people who are yet to get the benefit of the government schemes, who still find it difficult to have one square meal,” said Stela.

She claimed she had also filed her nomination in 2013 for the state assembly elections from the Jabalpur-Cantt seat and in 2014 for Jabalpur mayoral elections.

Her husband Lewis said it was his idea to start the Bharatiya Gareeb Party in 1996, with focus on the poor. “I filed my nomination for the election of President of India in 2007 and 2012 and some Lok Sabha elections in past. Despite our failure as candidates, we are making sense on one issue- poor have no voice. We need a strong voice in the country’s decision-making bodies,” he said.

He also claimed to have filed petitions in the state high court and the apex court on various issues, including the BJP not fulfilling the alleged promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts of every Indian citizen by bringing back black money from abroad.

The couple claimed they were robbed of Rs 75,000 cash in the train while they were coming to Bhopal on May 31 for filing the Rajya Sabha nomination.

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