Dhule (Maharashtra), April 3:
A weary but cheerful AAP candidate from Dhule, Ansari N. Ahmed, Thursday finally ended his 50-km long walkathon in Maharashtra to file his Lok Sabha nomination here.
Ahmed had set out from Malegaon in Nashik district Tuesday afternoon with around 150 supporters, a couple of vehicles and mini water tankers for Dhule, the adjoining district where the Election Commission has opened its office for Dhule constituency.
“We completed our last leg of eight kilometers this morning and reached Dhule around 2 p.m. to file the nomination papers. Our progress was delayed considerably as the crowds swelled to nearly 5,000,” said Ahmed’s close aide and media advisor Aleem Faizee.
The unique walkathon saw AAP supporters carrying brooms, the party’s election symbol.
Proceeding with them were a couple of vehicles loaded with food, large utensils and a portable gas stove and cylinder. Each person had come with his own blanket and bedsheet, plastic plates and disposable cups.
Ahmed and his band were rewarded with enthusiastic public response through nearly two dozen villages and hamlets which he passed. Hundreds of villagers welcomed him with garlands and offered chilled water, sherbet or tea.
“They told me that this is the first time they saw a candidate in flesh and blood. In all previous elections, they only saw the photographs or posters of the candidates,” said Ahmed, a 57-year-old academic.
The 50-km march afforded Ahmed interaction with over 50,000 voters.
“One of our main campaign agenda will be strengthening the co-operative nature of the powerloom textile industry here as opposed to the corporatization sought by some candidates,” Ahmed told the villagers.
Dhule is among the few parliamentary constituencies in India which span two adjoining districts: Nashik and Dhule in northwest Maharashtra.
The return journey will start this evening but this time, in hired small vehicles, two-wheelers, trucks or state transport buses, Faizee said.
Dhule constituency – currently held by BJP’s P.N. Sonawane – is set to witness a three-cornered battle also involving Congress’ candidate Amrish Patel and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Subhash Bhamre.
The trio is set to woo the 1.60 million electorate comprising 700,000 Marathas, 450,000 Muslims and others from different backward classes.