Varanasi: He wears a Modi jacket, sports a white beard and starts his address with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature word- Mitron (Friends). Abhinandan Pathak, 53, the lookalike of the PM is not known by his name but by names like Nakli Modi (Duplicate Modi), Chhota Modi (Mini Modi) or Garibo ka Modi (Poor Man’s Modi).
Pathak, who campaigned for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over three months during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has now switched sides and is not endorsing the PM or his party, Bharatiya Janata Party in the ongoing parliamentary elections. In fact, he has filed his nomination as an independent candidate from the Lucknow and Varanasi Lok Sabha seats and is supporting Congress.
Living in a small rented 10x15 ft room near Maduadeeh area in Varanasi, this doppelganger of PM Modi spends his daytime travelling the constituency with a handful of supporters to convince the people to vote for him.
Pathak attracts people with his looks and also by mimicking Modi during his campaigning and asks for a donation of one rupee from the public. NewsClick’s Saurabh Sharma interviewed Abhinandan Pathak regarding his political journey. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
Saurabh: Pathak, everyone knows you as a lookalike of the Prime Minister, tell us who you are, what you do, from where you come and other details.
Pathak: I am a resident of Saharanpur and a father of six kids, three sons and three daughters. I have been a campaigner of the BJP since 2014 and before that I was a social worker and I am still a social worker. I earn my livelihood by doing poojas and solemnising marriages as I am a part time priest too.
What made you campaign for BJP in 2014?
At the time of the 2014 elections, my mother asked me, “Your elder brother Narendra Modi is fighting elections from Varanasi and what are you doing in Saharanpur?” She asked me to campaign for Modi ji and later I found that a lot of people actually loved me. I campaigned in Varanasi for more than three months before the 2014 elections and I proudly say that my hard work paid results. “Us samay Modi leher thi. Ham bhi beh gaye the usme. (There was Modi wave at that time. I too was swept away by that),” he says.
You did a lot of work for the BJP for many years. What made you join hands with the Congress in 2018 and campaign against BJP?
It was in 2016 that I was doing a programme under the banner of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” in Surat city of Gujarat where I had called Jashodaben, wife of PM Modi, as the chief guest. The programme was called off by the administration on the orders of Amit Shah. I still have not understood the reason for cancelling that programme. The second incident happened when I had to spend three days and nights at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and I failed to meet him despite requesting the Prime Minister’s Office and several BJP leaders.
The third and final instance was when I was subjected to harassment and humiliation by the public owing to Modi’s deeds. In Lucknow, a group of people tore my kurta while they were standing in ATM lines during the demonetisation. They blamed me for everything. Later people blamed me for even for the Goods and Services Tax. Being a doppelganger of Modi is not my fault and I should not be punished for the wrongdoings of anyone.
You have been campaigning for the Congress for a few months but they have fielded another candidate from Lucknow. Did you talk to anyone in the party about it?
The Prime Minister does not have time to meet me but Rahul Gandhi hugged me while we were campaigning in Chhattisgarh. I wrote several letters to Rahul Gandhi but it seems that he is busy with the elections and I am hopeful of receiving a response from the Congress. Though I am contesting as an independent candidate, I am with the Congress.
You have received a notice from the Election Commission, what was it for?
They got confused with my slogan of ‘One Note One Vote’. I had urged for a donation of one rupee to support me but the commission thought that I am bribing people. I have clarified my stand to the election commission and I am optimistic that my nomination will be accepted by them.
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