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Munna Lal: The little known Aam Aadmi of Chandni Chowk constituency

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 10-05-2019 17:13 IST | Created: 10-05-2019 17:13 IST
Munna Lal: The little known Aam Aadmi of Chandni Chowk constituency

Sitting on a cot next to a shoe stand in a Valmiki temple, Munna Lal discusses his campaign with a handful of supporters, but he is unlike other candidates whose faces are splashed on newspapers or TV channels. Neither do loudspeakers blare his political slogans in Chandni Chowk, from where he is contesting as an independent, nor are there garlands around his neck.

In fact, his only semblance to a political leader is the starch-white kurta-pyjama he wears, an attire that is widely seen as trademark of netas in India. But then he is not a cut from the same cloth, he claims. "This is the first time I am standing for any election. My aim here is to raise the pressing issues of Valmiki community.

"It is a shame that we continue to remain oppressed even after 70 years of Independence. I stood for this election to give a message that Valmiki community can fight its own fight and that parties can no more exploit us for their political gains," Lal told PTI. Delhi Democratic Alliance (DDA), a coalition of activists, trade union leaders, and a few civil society groups working for the downtrodden, have fielded Lal and four other candidates for elections in Delhi, in an "act of defiance" against existing parties.

"We actually fielded candidates for all the seven seats. But for some reason, applications of two of our candidates were cancelled," said Lal. Valmikis belong to the SC community and spread across Delhi, from Mongolpuri to Sultanpuri and Trilokpuri to Tughlaqabad.

10th-pass Lal, who earlier worked as a waiter, is presently unemployed. Accusing the ruling government of the growing unemployment in the state, he said if he wins the election, his first priority will be to provide jobs and abolish the concept of "contractual jobs" from the region for good. "There are no jobs. I am myself unemployed, so I can empathise with the people like no other.

"Politicians in India during election time promise the moon to innocent people, but as soon they come to power they forget everything and are busy filling their own pockets. Employment generation is at the top in our manifesto," he added. The 37-year-old is contesting against the likes of Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal, Aam Aadmi Party's Pankaj Gupta and BJP's Harsh Vardhan in the high-profile constituency of Chandni Chowk.

Terming this election a mere "attendance", Lal said for the DDA this won't be a one-off election as they plan to form a party with the same name and contest the Delhi assembly elections next year. That said, he also claimed the response from people so far has been more than what he expected and there are good chances of him giving a good fight to the opposing candidates.

"Even if 50 percent of people who showed excitement on my filing nomination vote for me, have this from me, I will be giving them a really good fight," he added. Contesting Lok Sabha elections is a big task even for the veterans in the field, then how is Lal managing to fund his poll battle with little or no money at his disposal?

"I had made an appeal to the people of our community and they have come out and funded whatever little they could, be it through cash or Paytm. The amount is not much. But, yes, we are able to scrape through somehow. "Also, we are not doing big rallies, ours is basically a door-to-door campaign of 10-15 people. No cars, only some two-wheelers. No pomp and show like other parties ... just the bare minimum," he said.

Delhi votes on May 12 in the fifth round of the seven-phase polling. The votes will be counted on May 23.


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