Autorickshaw driver Sheikh Mohammed Hanif has always donned a white garb instead of the khaki uniform for the last 35 years of his career.
And now this look will also complement his new role of a politician.
The 56-year-old Hajouri resident has filed his nomination as an Independent candidate for the state Assembly polls from Kopri-Panchpakhadi constituency in Thane district.
He is pitted against stalwarts like Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde, Congress’ Manoj Shinde and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s Rajan Gavand.
Hanif had contested for the civic body elections in 1985.
Though most politicians have lost their voter base due to delimitation, Hanif feels the delimitation factor will help him win the polls.
“I decided to fight the election this time because the constituency has become smaller and my supporter base has increased,” said Hanif. “I have the support of 30,000 Muslims and 35,000 north Indians in addition to the 10,000 rickshaw drivers.”
Hanif, who has been living in Hamida Manzil Chawl and calls himself a kattar Maharashtrian, said: “But I believe that every Indian has the right to go and work anywhere in the country.”
Though there are areas in the constituency like Bara Bungalow, where the swish set resides, Hanif is not too worried about them.
“Those people won’t even need me. They don’t even stand in the ration card line. They do not have water or power problems,” he said. “I reside in the slums and understand the problems of slumdwellers.”
The Independent, who has declared assets worth Rs 22.7 lakh with the major chunk being the cost of his one-storey home, has reserved Rs 80,000 from his life savings for the election campaign.
He plans to go door to door with his bunch of supporters in his own three-wheeler.
And backing him are his wife, two sons and two daughters.
“I completely support my father. In fact, I told him that my marriage can wait and he should rather contest the elections. I and my friends will also campaign for him — clad in burqas,” said his youngest daughter Nazmeen (25).