Unlike the grand roadshows and rallies organised by most political parties to seek votes, 43-year-old Anand Vanjape, in the fray for the Pune Lok Sabha seat election as an independent, cycles 60 km everyday to reach out to the voters with an agenda to make the city pollution-free.
Vanjape, who calls himself an “environment politician”, said he has been promoting a pollution-free lifestyle for the last several years and chose to highlight the issue as it hasn’t found mention in any party’s manifesto. “Since the issue of pollution, be it air, noise, water or plastic, has become a matter of grave concern, I thought I should take it up and make it an election agenda. No political party or candidate has included the issue in their manifestos,” he said.
Pune goes to polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 23. Vanjape is up against Girish Bhalchandra Bapat of the BJP and Mohan Ramkisan Joshi of the Congress among others. Vanjape, an advertising professional who also owns a cycle shop, said he is getting a good response from the people as they are intrigued by his endeavour. “During my interaction with people, I get an opportunity to tell them about the dangers of pollution and the need to create awareness to save the future generations,” he said.
He added that he tries to explain to people that the greatest threat to earth is the belief that someone else will save it. The debutant is being assisted by his friends who are working to garner support for him on social media and also funding his campaign.
“Some of my friends who are in other countries are also helping me monetarily. However, since I am campaigning alone, I try and do it with minimum expense,” Vanjape said. Asked why he is directly contesting parliamentary elections and not local civic or assembly polls, Vanjape said the issue of pollution is not restricted to one city or area. “There is a need for a robust national policy to tackle the issue and it is possible only at the parliament level,” he said. Vanjape’s election symbol is a kettle.