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UP polls: AAP’s Khaga candidate has declared zero assets, says money doesn’t matter

With 31 per cent of the total 624 candidates in Uttar Pradesh's fourth phase holding assets over Rs 1 crore, Gautam is the exception.

Written by Shivnarayan Rajpurohit | New Delhi |
Updated: February 24, 2022 7:30:24 am
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Khaga, Vijay Kumar Gautam (File)

“Lagu Nahi” or not applicable is the reply to almost all questions—and most importantly related to his assets—in his poll affidavit and it does not ruffle Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Vijay Kumar Gautam in Uttar Pradesh.

“The voter has evolved. Gone are the days when votes could be bought. Now people choose their candidates on real issues,” said the 30-year-old Gautam, who is fighting from the Khaga seat in the Fatehpur district near Prayagraj.

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Khaga is among 59 constituencies that are voting in the fourth phase of the UP assembly polls Wednesday.

With 31 per cent of the total 624 candidates in this phase holding assets over Rs 1 crore, Gautam is the exception. In the affidavit, he has declared that he has neither moveable nor immovable assets. To be sure, in the 2017 assembly polls, 322 crorepatis were sent to the 403-member state assembly.

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In Khaga, the assets of SP, BJP and BSP candidates range from Rs 1.25 to Rs 6 crore.

Despite want of personal funds, Gautam said his campaigning was decent—if not comparable to the canvassing by other prominent candidates. “People known to me and supporters contributed in whatever way they could. We collected around Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh for campaigning,” he recalled.

“I had worked with the BSP for three years. Later, people started talking about Kejriwalji’s (AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal) vision in the education and health sector. That’s when I decided to move to the AAP. When the elections came, people decided to support me. They knew I had nothing. People wanted change. And they saw it in Kejriwalji’s vision,” said Gautam, a father of three children.

The debutante said he earns his livelihood by working in his field, which is in the name of his late father.

Asked about his odds of victory, he struck a solemn note. “You can’t expect fruits the same day you sow seeds. It takes time,” he said, expecting to notch 20,000 votes out of the total 3.4 lakh.

On his plunge into politics, he stressed: “Politics has remained close to me since my college days. I studied political science in my graduation. I could have done other jobs too but politics is the only means that can rid the society of injustices and provide relief to the backward communities. And this is the aim: by building schools and health infrastructure.”

BSP candidate Dasrath Lal hinted at the prevalence of cash for votes in the area. “Jab pawwa aur pansawa band ho jaye, behenji jaroor aa jaye satta me (When the distribution of liquor and Rs 500 notes stops, Behenji (BSP chief Mayawati) will surely come to power.”

On Gautam’s zero assets, Congress nominee Om Prakash Gihar said in a democracy, everybody has the right to speak their mind. “Anybody—poor or rich—can fight the election. No restrictions.”

A two-time MLA, BJP incumbent Krishna Paswan had defeated Gihar in 2017 and a different Congress candidate from Khaga in 2012.

Non-BJP candidates alleged that stray cattle are running amok in standing crops and the state government has failed to rein them in. Paswan countered: “Baseless allegations. The stat government has built so many gaushalas and there are funds to run them too.”

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