Come election season and politicians will do anything to entice the electorate-mammoth hoardings, massive rallies generating tonnes of waste, tall claims, bribes and character assassination-nothing is out of bounds as long as the votes come in. But for state agriculture minister and two-time Doiwala MLA Trivendra Singh Rawat of the BJP, 'ethical campaigning' is the mantra.
For this complete teetotaller (he doesn't even drink tea), green concerns are on top of the list. And it is not just something he pays lip service to during elections. "The anti-plastic campaign is something I have been associated with for quite sometime," says Rawat, 51, adding that he has been "supporting such campaigns as they help in creating awareness among the people about how damaging that stubborn material (plastic) is to the environment."
In his own campaigns, Rawat has minimised the use of plastic, directing his supporters to forego, wherever possible, the use of festoons, flags and posters made of the non-biodegradable material. "During my campaign in the last assembly elections only 17 flex-boards were put up," recalls Rawat, who despite hi forebearance managed to woo successfully the largest constituency in the state with 1.81 lakh voters.
Other tactics Rawat refuses to resort to is tempt voters with liquor, exaggerating his achievements or making false promises to the electorate. So how does this MLA maintain his connect with the people without compromising his principles?
Rawat says he prefers "door-to-door interactions to addressing huge public meetings that are a big drain on one's resources." Not only does it "cost literally nothing, but it is also quite effective in that it helps me reach out to a larger number of people and also at a very personal level," says. The tall, athletic MLA sets out at 9.30 am along with his supporters to interact with the voters. He claims he is not given to "unnecessary bhashan-baji" and is known to be a quick campaigner. "I finish interacting with three families within just five minutes…and confine myself to exchanging pleasantries." His may be a different kind of campaign but its success is demonstrable. And so strongly does Rawat trust his voters that a few years ago, when some of his rivals 'tried to tarnish' his image through a poster campaign, he didn't allow his angry supporters to remove the material. "I asked them not to bother, as people are smart enough to judge what is right," explains Rawat.