The Telegraph
Monday , April 14 , 2014
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Without lineage, Independents set sail on self-belief

- Off-track candidates in fray at Patna Sahib bank on clean past & people connect

Hands folded for greeting people, twenty-five-year-old Vijay Kumar Sahni — sporting a white shirt with trousers — gives the image of a politician.

This first-year student of political science at Nalanda Open University might not be a leader now but is seriously pursuing his dream of taking up politics as a career. He is one of the Independent candidates in fray in the Patna Sahib constituency.

Like Sahni, there are a few other unusual candidates. “Residents of Patna Sahib constituency are not at all happy with sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha. He has not done anything for them. So far as other candidates are concerned, I don’t think they have any connect with the people. I am fighting this election because I believe I can’t clean up the system without entering it. Youths need to come forward and join politics,” said Sahni when asked about the reason for contesting the polls.

Sahni considers himself to be a deserving candidate. “I have the will to do something for my own people,” he added.

The youngest candidate from Patna Sahib constituency appeared totally unfazed competing with big names as Shatrughan Sinha, Kunal Singh, Parveen Amanullah and Dr Gopal Prasad Sinha.

“I visited many places for campaigning in the past few days. I mostly walked and interacted with residents because I can’t afford to hire vehicles like big politicians. I could see the confidence of people in me. My father Rampreet Prasad, a farmer, had so much confidence in me that he provided me Rs 25,000 as security deposit for filing my nomination,” added Sahni, whose first priority would be to repair the damaged roads, provided he wins.

Like Sahni, Kumar Rajiv (43), too, is trying his luck as an Independent. Rajiv, in the fray for the second time, has got a memento from former President Pratibha Patil for his welfare work in the state, though he does not consider himself a social activist. “I contested in the 2009 polls and was able to garner 1,090 votes without high profile campaigning. Seven persons are canvassing for me. Most of them quit their jobs to join me.”

He added: “If I don’t win this time, I would fight again. I would also motivate others with clean background to file nominations.”

On the list of such unusual candidates is S.N. Prasad, a retired manager of research and development department of the State Bank of India, Jamshedpur. He had taken up farming after retirement and cultivated paddy on his 10-acre land at Bakhtiyarpur.

“I have helped people set up industrial units. I know about problems faced by the poor. I have experience of working for people of all economical backgrounds and I know how it feels to work in a field under scorching sun. I think I am a deserving candidate,” said Prasad.

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