Shakeela Khatun (48), a mother of seven, lives in a slum near Ashok Cinema in the capital. The third-time aspirant of Patna Municipal Corporation, who lost elections from ward number 21 of the PMC on two earlier occasions, has no qualms in accepting that she is a “pauper” candidate.
Shakeela, who has no movable or immovable assets as declared in her nomination papers, said she has no money for a pomp election campaign and the only way she can appeal to voters to elect her is by meeting them in person and move around in colonies on foot.
“I have no money to even hire a vehicle or to get my banners posted. I have just got a few hundred pamphlets published with my election symbol ‘ceiling fan’ printed on them. All I am doing is meeting people at their doorsteps and promising them a turnaround if they elect me to the PMC,” said Shakeela.
For her, being “poor” is her strength.
“Only a downtrodden and not a crorepati can understand the pain of the common people and the basic necessities of an area. During the last elections, I had got 850 votes and had finished third in the ward. The number of votes will definitely increase this time as people are seeing what mess the current councillor has created and they will vote for me,” claimed Shakeela.
Like Shakeela, at least 15 other candidates, out of the total 631 aspirants for 71 wards of the PMC, have showed themselves as having no immovable or movable properties and little or no cash in their asset declarations.
While the state election commission has ruled that the corporation candidates can only spend a maximum of Rs 40,000 on poll campaign, most of the candidates crib that the cap is too tight and restricts the option of going big on campaigning.
Manoj Kumar, who is contesting from ward number 18, said he is unperturbed of the fact that he is taking on to “the powerful and the rich”.
“I have no plot, no house of my own, no bank balance, jewellery or vehicle in my name. All I have is Rs 2,000 in hand that I have mentioned in the nomination papers. But people should understand that a candidate’s ability to serve them does not depend on the riches he has but his urge to work for the good of the society,” said Manoj.