He comes across as quiet and unassuming,but villagers say Hrishipal Pehalwan is a fighter,an ideal candidate to contest elections he was a wrestler.
In Ayanagar in Chhattarpur constituency which borders Gurgaon,boys idolise Hrishipal,the AAP candidate. They call him Pehalwanji and hope that he will teach them wrestling some day. We will vote for him because he is a good man and he has given opportunities to many people from our village without asking for anything in return, a resident says.
For over 20 years,Hrishipal has been training boys from across Delhi and other parts of the country in his akhara,located near the Arjan Garh Metro station. He is short and stout,not quite like the pehalwans one imagines.
But when he commands the wrestlers,his voice booms through the akhara. He has helped students participate in local,national and international competitions,with two of the wrestlers he trained winning the Super Fight League. His son Anup Kumar is an SFL flyweight champion.
Hrishipal says poverty made him give up his ambitions,also the reason why he dropped out of school in class XI.
He worked as a milkman and an auto-rickshaw driver before setting up his akhara.
I do not want any child to suffer like I had to. Wrestling is my passion but I had to leave it because of lack of funds. When you see talent,you have to promote it. Unfortunately,politicians and MLAs only visit this area during elections. How will they know the issues of the common man, he asks.
Beside this,he provides free food and accommodation to SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) aspirants who get interview calls and sometimes even SSB jawans themselves. They are called from across the country but are given no accommodation. This is not the kind of attitude expected for those who protect the country and its borders, he says.
It is time for him to address another gathering. He fixes the broken string of his slipper and walks up the stage in the Gujjar Heroes Football Ground and begins a speech. He hits out at his opponents,calling them dishonest. Bijli,sadak,paani,school ka vaada kiya par kahan hai yeh suvidhayen? (They promised electricity,roads,water and schools,but where are these facilities), he asks.
So what made him contest elections? The desire to serve the people and the right cause. He says he was initially reluctant and required some convincing from family and well-wishers.
Asked how he hopes to win against the powerful Tanwars in Chhattarpur constituency,he says: Haar,jeet hoti rahegi,intentions achche hone chahiye (Win or lose,your intentions must be good).