Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Apolitical candidates who took political plunge for change
Uttar Pradesh, which has largely been the mainstay of political heavyweights, is now witnessing professionals and apolitical people taking the plunge in electoral politics.Updated: May 16, 2019 15:57 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh, which has largely been the mainstay of political heavyweights, is now witnessing professionals and apolitical people taking the plunge in electoral politics.
Besides retired bureaucrats, serving officers, a journalist and even a former commando in the National Security Guards (NSG) are trying their luck in the poll arena.
According to these candidates, they are not lured by power or money but want to bring about a positive change in politics and society.
While Girish Narayan Pandey, a retired principal chief commissioner, income tax, contested the election from Lucknow, former NSG commando Ajay Sharma tested political waters from Allahabad Lok Sabha seat. Lucknow went to polls on May 6 while Allahabad voted on May 12.
Similarly, journalist-turned-politician Supriya Srinate is contesting from Maharajganj which goes to polls on May 19. Here is a brief profile of the apolitical candidates who are trying to make their mark against seasoned politicians.
Girish Narayan Pandey (Retired principal chief commissioner, income tax)
A 1978-batch IRS officer Girish Narayan Pandey holds a different profile as compared to other 12 candidates who were in the fray from Lucknow constituency.
“I decided to contest elections with the aim to restore democratic values which are under threat nowadays,” said Pandey.
“Until 2015, I had never given a thought to entering politics. In 2015, I visited my village Gaura Pandey which is 45 kms from Basti. While interacting with a group of villagers about our constitutional rights, I was surprised to see that no one was aware about the word ‘Constitution’,” Pandey said.
It was then that he decided to educate people by holding small chaupals, named ‘Samvidhan Katha’, in villages.
“During these interactive sessions, we used to inform people about the Constitution and the rights of the people in a simple manner,” he said.
“The concept worked as in many villages of Basti district, people refused to vote to tainted candidates during panchayat elections,” he said.
In 2016, Pandey floated his own outfit, Sarvodaya Bharat Party. “In 2017 state assembly elections, our party contested on 12 seats. I contested from Gaura constituency in Gonda district and got more than 800 votes. In 2018, I contested Lok Sabha by-elections from Gorakhpur and got 1,700 votes. In both the elections, I spent Rs 1,60,000 and Rs 2,60,000, respectively. The entire amount was pooled in by the people,” he added.
In 2019, his party is contesting from 12 seats in Uttar Pradesh as well as other parts of the country. Of these, seven seats including Meerut, Lucknow, Pratapgarh, Basti, Gorakhpur and Salempur are in Uttar Pradesh. The remaining five seats are Khajuraho, Raipur, Ahemdabad, Mumbai and Pune.
His poll promises include education and medical facilities for all. “I am trying to serve the society in my own way. Today, voters are smart. I am sure they will support me,” he added.
Ajay Sharma (Former NSG commando)
Indian Air Force (IAF) acting junior warrant officer and former NSG commando Ajay Sharma (52) took retirement in 2007 after serving the forces for 20 years.
Asked about his plans if he gets elected, he said he would ensure that all welfare schemes reach the poor and the underprivileged.
Sharma said, if elected, he would spend all the perks and salary as an MP for the welfare of the poor.
“Seeing my social work, many people asked me to contest elections. There is a need for hardworking people with a clean image in politics,” he said.
A skilled skydiver, Sharma is adept in 20 types of skydiving, a rare qualification in India.
Being a part of IAF 73rd anniversary celebrations, Sharma has been to Germany, Sri Lanka and Malaysia during his service and has also been a member of the team behind TV programme ‘Mission Udaan’.
Shyam Singh Yadav (Retired PCS officer)
Retired PCS officer Shyam Singh Yadav, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat is also an ace shooter.
Yadav has participated in a number of shooting competitions, including national and international.
Born and brought up in Rani Patti village of Jaunpur, Yadav studied at the Allahabad University from where he earned MSc and LLB degrees. In 1982, he cleared the PCS examination and worked in various capacities, including sub-divisional magistrate, municipal commissioner, special secretary and vice-chairman of different development authorities.
After his retirement, Yadav joined politics.
Presently, Yadav is the president of UP state rifle association and vice-president of UP Olympics Association.
Yadav enjoyed the blessings of Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav. He faces sitting BJP MP Dr KP Singh.
Mohamad Irshad (Former member, railway board)
Mohamad Irshad, 70, was fielded from Pratapgarh by a little-known party, Sarvodaya Bharat Party.
Irshad, who hails from a Pratapgarh village but had to leave his native place about five decades ago, said: “The condition of villages has not changed much over the years. Children in villages are still forced to move out to cities to get quality education.”
Irshad cleared the Special Class Railway Apprentice (SCRA) examination to join the railways. With his hard work, he rose up to the rank of additional member in the Railway Board and retired in 2008.
After retirement, he moved to his home district Pratapgarh. “On my return, I realised that nothing has changed. People continue to live in poverty while their leaders have lavish lives. I wanted to change this and decided to file my nomination,” he said.
“I firmly believe in our Constitution and feel that if good people are in power, they can ensure better implementation. I want to bring about this change,” he said, adding that education and health will be his top priority after election.
Preeta Harit (Former principal commissioner, income tax)
Congress’s Agra candidate Preeta Harit resigned as the principal commissioner, income tax (Meerut/Muzaffarnagar) on March 20 after 32 years of service. She got the Congress ticket from Agra the next day.
“I was not unemployed even for a day,” said Harit, who was born in Delhi in 1964.
Although she received her basic education in Hindi medium in Delhi municipal schools, she chose English as the medium of instruction in undergraduate classes and went on to complete post-graduation in history. She cleared the civil services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission in her very first attempt in 1986.
“I was good at studies and secured the 22nd All India rank amongst reserved category candidates. But I missed becoming an IAS officer by one rank. (Even after clearing the exam) I took all three attempts and had the opportunity to become an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer but chose to become an IRS (Indian Revenue Service) officer,” she said.
During her campaign, she travelled extensively in west UP, taking up issues of social equality, harassment of women and atrocities on the weaker sections.
“I created an organisation of my own to help those requiring it. I could not remain confined to my job only. Service to the society brought me closer to more and more people and I went on to become president of the SC/ST Employees’ Association of the income tax department, besides being associated with welfare bodies to serve my people,” she said.
Supriya Srinate (Journalist-turned-politician)
Supriya Srinate, 42, an anchor with a popular news channel is now carrying forward the political legacy of her father Harshwardhan Singh, two-time MP from Maharajganj.
Supriya, who did her schooling from Lucknow’s Loreto Convent, pursued her graduation and masters in political science from Delhi University.
She has been fielded by the Congress from Maharajganj against BJP’s sitting MP Pankaj Chowdhary.
Supriya, who has an experience of 10 years in journalism, terms Maharajganj as the ‘karmbhoomi’ of her father and expresses confidence that she would win the seat.
“The party has given me a big responsibility and I am fully confident that I will meet the expectations,” she said.
When asked why did she join politics, she said: “The prevailing situation in the country forced me to take this decision. Either one can sit idle and watch the situation silently or fight back to bring change.”
(Inputs by Oliver Fredrick and Chandan Kumar in Lucknow, Rajesh Srivastava in Prayagraj, Sudhir Kumar in Varanasi, Hemendra Chaturvedi in Agra and Abdul Jadid in Gorakhpur)
First Published: May 16, 2019 13:41 IST