Up against Narendra Modi, Samajwadi Party's Varanasi candidate Kailash Chaurasia is invoking his 'paanwala' family history to take on the BJP prime ministerial candidate's 'chaiwala' background.
Modi has been vocal in talking about the days when he used to work at a tea stall, as a part of efforts to show his 'humble' background. His party is also hosting 'chai pe charcha' events to garner support for Modi and other party candidates.
Unfazed, Chaurasia says he himself comes from a family of betel sellers, while his party workers are playing on loudspeakers the famous Amitabh Bachchan song, 'Khai ke paan Banaras wala'
to garner support from the public in this temple town.
Chaurasia told PTI he preferred interacting directly with voters and was looking to unite all betel sellers in the city by interacting with them at their doorsteps.
"I don't believe in talking 'hawa-hawai' (hollow) like Modi, who, by holding 'chai pe charcha', has spent huge sums of money on publicity."
Varanasi has a large population of the Chaurasia community, members who are involved in the betel business.
While Modi's interactions on BJP's 'chai pe charcha' platform mostly concentrated on video-conferencing, Chaurasia said he felt he would do better with direct face-to-face interaction.
Chaurasia, Uttar Pradesh minister of state for basic education, claims that he "sold paan for several years".
He said his ancestors used to sell paan in Varanasi district and added that his family members were still in the business.
"My aim is not to waste money on such worthless events and publicise myself on television or in newspapers," he said. "Instead, I prefer utilising the money on needy people such as the sick or those who need money for daughters' marriage," he said.
Kishan Dixit, a SP worker, said, "We are telling voters to be wise while voting, open their 'locked minds' and remember that Chaurasia will always remain with them as he is a local and resides right here with them on the banks of the Ganga... as soon as Lok Sabha polls conclude, these others will desert the city."