Abhinandan Pathak (left) looks almost identical to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image Credit: Supplied

Patna: Elections in the Indian state of Bihar have always been full of colours, suspense and drama. However, what has infused sudden interest in the rather dull-looking poll scene as a result of COVID-19 restrictions is the move by a candidate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lookalike, to throw his hat in the ring.

Abhinandan Pathak, 53, the lookalike of the PM, has filed his nomination papers from Hathau assembly seat in Gopalganj district as a candidate from the Vanchit Samaj Party. He wants to carry out large-scale development works in the state and make people available the benefits of the development schemes.

It’s not that only his face resembles the PM; he even tries to look like Modi through his actions, speech and also his dress. He wears the typical Modi jacket, sports a white beard and also starts his address with “Mitron” (friends)—Modi’s signature word that instantly draws the attention of the masses.

Meeting voters

Yet there is a difference between the two—this “Modi” doesn’t hesitate even riding a bicycle to move around the areas and meet the voters. People mob Pathak wherever he goes to get a closer look at him.

“My fight is for the development of Bihar. Please, lend your support to change the face of the state,” Pathak tells the voters as the masses erupt in jubilation after listening to his words. He says initially, he had campaigned for the PM but right now “I am neither his support nor his critic”.

He claims he is locked in a straight contest with Bihar’s social welfare minister Ramsevak Singh, four-time lawmaker from Hathau seat in Gopalganj. Incidentally, Gopalganj is also the native town of Pathak’s in-laws. Currently, he stays at his in-laws’ home, taking care of his old mother-in-law.

Pathak who hails from Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh hogged the headlines when he first campaigned for PM Modi in Varanasi during 2014 Lok Sabha polls. So far, he has contested six elections—from the post of corporate to as a candidate for Lok Sabha but luck has ditched him all the time.

In a way, his fate looks similar to Nagarmal Bajoria, more popular as “Dhari Pakad” (literally translated as one who clings on). 94-year-old Bajoria, a resident of Bhagalpur district in Bihar, has contested 286 elections—from local bodies to Presidential polls—so far in his political career spanning over five decades but never won any elections. As such, he loves to lose elections.

Saving democracy

“I am hardly concerned about winning elections; rather my fight has been to save democracy. I never cherished the dream to win the election,” Bajoria told the local media on Friday. “As such, I don’t want to win elections. If I win, there are chances that I will get more concerned about saving the throne, rather than fight for the great cause,” he said.

His obsession with polls began some five decades back when he fought elections against former Indian prime minister late India Gandhi, who was called the only “man” in her male cabinet, from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Chikmagalur in Karnataka. Chikmagalur was the parliamentary constituency which elected late Gandhi in a by-election in 1978 after she lost the 1977 polls in Rae Bareli.

Bajoria also unsuccessfully contested against another former prime minister late Atal Behari Vajpayee from Lucknow and also filed nominations for presidential polls which were rejected. He holds the unique distinction of contesting elections from every part of the country, including the trouble-torn Jammu & Kashmir.

Interestingly, Bajoria, a businessman by profession, has lost his security deposits in all the elections he fought but these defeats do not deter him anyway. “This is my way of serving the society”, he says adding he had been contesting all these elections with a feeling of nationalism and social service. He says the country won’t prosper unless and until some good people join politics.