No election in Agra is complete till Hasnu Ram Ambedkari turns up to file nomination papers. On Wednesday, Ambedkari filed the nomination papers for his 94th election, and like the others, he too is confident that he will lose not only the election but also his deposit, yet again.
Clad in ‘kurta’, ‘dhoti’ beside a cotton ‘angocha’ (stole) despite the prevailing cold wave, Ambedkari filed papers as an independent candidate from the Kheragarh assembly seat in Agra, a rural seat, which is currently held by the BJP candidate.
“Shutterbugs await the opportunity to click Hasnu Ram Ambedkari in each and every election in Agra and the veteran contestant has not allowed the wait to go waste and is one common feature, election after election, since 1985 in Agra,” said a veteran photographer in Agra.
“Others might be contesting to win the election but my wish is to lose the election. I am free to have my wish. Voters might not vote for me but cannot stop me from contesting elections one after another,” said Hasnu Ram Ambedkari (75) after filing his papers.
But ask him about the reason for his habit of contesting elections one after another and he loses his cool.
“Agar main jeet gaya to narak mein jana padega” (I will be doomed to hell if I win), he says adding that present day politics forces one to do what his conscience does not allow. Thus, losing elections is a better option and saves us from committing sins, he holds.
“Others contest to win but I only wish to lose” he asserts.
“Contesting elections is a ‘junoon’ (obsession) for my father. We do not come in his way as he is free to have and fulfil his wish. He is a self-sufficient man and even if he was dependent on us, we would not have stopped him from contesting elections,” says Bharat Raj Ambedkari, son of Hasnu Ram, who is in the construction business.
While contesting assembly election from Kheragarh assembly seat in 2007, Hasnu Ram got 252 votes while the winner got 46,829 votes. The number rose to 336 votes in 2012 assembly election for Kheragarh when the winner got 93,510 votes, and he secured 725 votes while contesting 2017 assembly elections from Kheragarh, the assembly seat from which he is candidate yet again for the 2022 assembly elections.
“I was born on the day the nation got independence on August 15, 1947, as my mother and father told me, and now I am 75 year old,” he said. However, he admits that his age as mentioned in documents he filed for nomination, is 67 only.
Asked about this difference in age, Hasnu Ram asserts that the actual date of birth is August 15, 1947 and claims that he is an illiterate villager not aware about such technicalities, because there was no provision of birth certificates those days, that too in the village he was born in seven decades ago.
Reminiscing about how it all began, Hasnu Ram said, “In the 1985 election, the Bahujan Samaj Party promised me a party ticket and believing them I even gave up my government job as collection ‘ameen’ (revenue staff) but the BSP went back on its word and on that day I decided not to contest election for any party and go for it independently,” says the veteran election candidate who said that another party asked him to deposit ₹50,000 for contesting election.
He recalls the 1985 assembly election from Kheragarh seat in Agra when he was fourth on the list having got 17,111 votes, but yet lost his deposit.
“I work as MNREGA worker besides working as ‘munshi’ (clerk) for lawyers in Kheragarh tehsil and have 4.5 bigha land which provides me basics. I save some money to contest elections and manage the expenses without seeking help from my five sons and five daughters (all married),” said Ambedkari.
“I might reach the figure of 100 as the number of elections contested by me but it all depends on destiny as I am ageing now. Not to be left behind, my wife too has contested half a dozen elections,” says Ambedkari, who claims to be a disciple of Swami Vivekanand but complains that it is wrong to rely on the government for change.
“One can improve himself at the place where he works and it is impossible for any leader to get the whole nation changed. Any party which comes to power loses the vision and lets go of the promises it made,” he complained but was soft on the government at the centre led by prime minister Narendra Modi.
“Much of the corruption has been stopped after Modi came to power and the common man could have a better life under this regime in the centre. He is working within parameters laid by the constitution of India,” Ambedkari said. He seeks no blessings for winning the election as defeats, already 93 for him, make no difference.