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He contests against Gandhi family with a passion

india Updated: Apr 15, 2009 12:01 IST

IANS
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He is a Gandhian, wants to be prime minister and has been taking on India's most politically powerful family for the last three decades with a wish to end dynastic rule. And now Mitt Singh Sehajara, 67, is back to doing what he loves - contesting against the Nehru-Gandhi clan.

"I am a die-hard follower of Gandhi and believe in non-violence and peace. I have been contesting elections against the Gandhi family as I feel a common man can serve the nation better than the children of big leaders," Sehajara, dressed in an off-white kurta-pyjama and a blue turban and lean for his age, said.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Sehajara has filed his nomination as an independent from the Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh to pit himself against Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi. Never mind that he himself hails from Sehajara village in Barnala district of Punjab.

"I jumped into politics to clean the system and end dynastic rule. I want to become the country's prime minister and serve the people," Sehajara said.

The ex-army man had contested the Lok Sabha elections against former prime minister Indira Gandhi from Chikmagaloor in Karnataka in 1978 and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh in 2006.

He wanted to file nominations against Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi in 1989 but failed after falling sick.

Sehajara entered politics with a dream to become prime minister and contested his first Lok Sabha election in 1977 from Sangrur in Punjab. He has contested over 40 elections for the state assembly and the Lok Sabha. He has filed nominations for the presidential elections seven times.

Despite losing all the elections and forfeiting his security deposit every time, Sehajara is upbeat about contesting elections.

"I believe in the saying of Indian holy scripture Bhagwad Gita - 'karm karo, phal ki ichha mat karo' (do your duty to the best of your ability without caring for the result).

"I contest elections to win and will continue doing it," said Sehajara, who makes his earning by farming on 14 acres of land owned by him in the village.

Sehajara does not use any vehicle for campaigning and walks 40 km daily to meet voters in his constituency.

"I walk for hours to meet people in my constituency, but I have not been keeping well for some days and that has affected my campaigning schedule. However, Amethi people know me as I have been to the place several times and they will vote for me," he said.

Sehajara joined the Indian Army in 1962 during the India-China war and fought in the 1965 India-Pakistan war before quitting the army in 1966.

"I joined the Indian Army after I heard prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru appealing to people to join the forces. I took part in the war against China and Pakistan.

"However, I quit the army following a request by the Indian government in 1966 for soldiers to take voluntary retirement as it was getting difficult to bear the expenses," said Sehajara, still proud of his decisions.

"Every time a war broke out with a foreign country, I wrote a letter to the army headquarters volunteering my services to the nation. I think when I am ready to fight for the nation, I also deserve to rule the nation.

"Tell me, is there any political leader in the country who volunteers on his or her own to fight for the nation?" signs off Sehajara.