Mumbai: Independent candidate from the Mumbai North West constituency Aftab Maswood Khan is running his campaign in an unique manner: it’s entirely digital and paperless.
He is campaigning through WhatsApp, sending out his manifesto with a message asking the voters to vote for him and deposit Re one to his Paytm or bank account provided in the message so that he gets to know the number of votes he is going to receive. Khan said that he would give the money to the election commissioner or to the underprivileged children.
Aftab Khan who is planning to give a tough fight to Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress and Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena, said that he is fighting against a corrupt system, be it any party. The assets declared by Aftab Khan in his affidavit include a flat worth Rs 80 lakh in an SRA building, Rs 5,000 in his bank account, and four grams of gold which is worth Rs 12,000.
When The Free Press Journal spoke to Khan about the election and his plans, he said, “I first attempted to contest the 2004 elections but due to some issues in my nomination form, it was rejected. Then, I tried my luck in the 2009 election but I got only 560 votes.” Khan said it is not easy to raise funds, but he is being supported by his family and friends. “My friends and supporters have contributed money for my deposit, which is Rs 25,000.
I am not incurring any additional costs as I am campaigning through digital platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, which cost me nothing,” said Khan. Khan says it has not easy to contest as an Independent candidate. People have been making fun of him. Even the returning officer in the Election Commission had a laugh at him, which just made him more determined.
“There is a process where the returning officer gives a demo of the EVM machine but for me they never seemed serious. Then, I thought of paperless campaigning as I have no financial means but I have a strong message for the people who will come out to vote,” said Khan.
Khan says cellphone has been revolutionary and one doesn’t need education to understand messages on it. “Today, even uneducated people are using WhatsApp and the message spreads immediately to a large audience. I keep posting messages. I know even if one family reads it, they may give me a chance,” Khan says.