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Independent candidates hope to make an impact this Lok Sabha polls

Aware that they are up against big names, 19 of the 29 candidates have chosen to fly solo; mid-day spoke to five of them to find out what keeps them motivated

One cannot assume independent candidates to be the underdogs in this election, as the results may just surprise you. Staying out of the limelight, these candidates have been walking the extra mile to win the hearts of their voters. Some of them have been threatened and even bribed to withdraw their nominations, but they remain unshaken.

Retired Col Jayantrao Chitale
Past record: Lost 1999 Lok Sabha election
This ex-army man is fighting the election without much muscle and money power. He is campaigning in the constituency by distributing pamphlets. He thinks that unless and until people vote for a 'qualitative candidate', he will keep contesting the elections. He also questioned whether the candidates of the four major political parties — BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, and MNS — would effectively speak about city-related issues in the Parliament.

Shashikant Owhal
Past record: Lost the 2009 assembly election from Shivaji Nagar assembly segment
Shashikant OwhalThis will be his first Lok Sabha election fight. He received just 410 votes in his previous election, but did not give up, and filed his nomination for the LS elections. Owhal said that his intention behind contesting the LS polls is to inspire others who find it hard to believe that the elections can be also be contested with minimal budgets. So far, he has spent only R15,000 on his campaign, and uses his own vehicle for it. Instead of appealing to people to vote for him, he spreads awareness about the importance to vote.
Vision: To solve the city's complex traffic issues


Ajay Paithankar
Past record: Lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Pune constituency
Ajay PaithankarAround 47 years ago, this 55-year-old man worked closely with social activist SM Joshi. After this stint, he chose to contest the election as an independent candidate. He received 550 votes last election. This labour law practitioner is now campaigning on his two-wheeler in various parts of the city. According to him, although he lost the last election and received only 550 votes, he is contesting again by shelling out money from his own pocket. He wants to bring about infrastructural improvement in the city.
Vision: Security of women in the city


Santosh Pawar
Past record: Lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Pune constituency
Santosh PawarHe hails from the Matang community and claims that people from his commune hardly get the chance to enter politics. He said this was the main reason that urged him to contest the LS polls, irrespective of his previous defeat. Pawar secured 658 votes in 2009 Lok Sabha election. He said he was being pressurised by national political parties to withdraw his nomination. He was also bribed with money to step back, as the leaders feared that the votes of his community would be shared. He, however, has decided to remain firm on his decision.
Vision: Overall development, including infrastructure


Nilesh Dhanave
Nilesh DhanavePast record: Lost the 2011 Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation election
Dhanave wanted to be an active performer and a silent observer on the current political situation in the country.
So, he chose to enter the electoral fray by filing his nomination as an independent candidate. Surprisingly, his wife is also contesting the elections from Pune constituency and the couple is now campaigning via door-to-door visits.
The couple was threatened by volunteers of national political parties to get them to withdraw their nomination. They have refused to bow down to the threats.
Vision: To improve the city's local transport conditions

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