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Rediff.com  » News » This Spider-Man has an unusual idea to fight goondaism

This Spider-Man has an unusual idea to fight goondaism

April 23, 2014 12:41 IST

This Spider-Man has an unusual idea to fight goondaism

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Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward/Rediff.com in Mumbai

Gone are the days when one was willing to give up one's life for freedom. I want to live, bring about change and enjoy that change, says Indian Spider-Man Gaurav Sharma, Independent candidate from Mumbai South.

Gaurav Sharma spoke to Rediff.com’s Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward about his campaign strategy and how he wants to join hands with the local goondas to make South Mumbai a better place.  

If you have seen a man scaling buildings and perching on windows talking to people in South Mumbai, in all probability it might be your friendly neighbourhood Indian Spider-Man.

True to his superhero alter ego, Gaurav Sharma climbs residential buildings in the gullies of Charni road to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

See the video: Look! It's Spider-Man outside your window!

Donning the quintessential red and blue Spider-Man costume, Sharma’s campaigns are rather unique and unusual. Incidentally, his election symbol is a 'window' and Sharma has chosen to woo his voters by reaching out to them through their windows. 

Climbing skyscrapers in record time is not new to this martial arts trainer and fitness consultant, but contesting the Lok Sabha election is.

Sharma is an Independent candidate from Mumbai South constituency and will be fighting experienced and popular opponents like Milind Deora (Congress), Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena), Bala Nandgaonkar (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) and Meera Sanyal (Aam Aadmi Party). Mumbai votes on April 24.

He spoke to Rediff.com's Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward.

Fighting elections can be expensive. How have you been raising money for your campaign? What are your sources of income?

I am currently using my own money and taking help from family and friends. You have no idea how much I earn and what I do with my money. I love taking risks. I conduct seminars and give personal training to influential people in Mumbai. They pay me about Rs 25,000 per session. Apart from that, I get paid for the life skills seminars I conduct.

So far I’ve used only Rs 65,000 of my personal money, while candidates are allowed to spend up to Rs 7 lakh for poll campaigning.

Special Coverage: Election 2014

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Image: Gaurav Sharma, an Independent candidate from South Mumbai meets voters during election campaigning
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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'I believe we should join hands with goondas and work together'

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Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

You have chosen an unconventional way of campaigning. How is it working for you? Do you think people will take you seriously?

That is what I do. I climb buildings. I am a performer. I feel this is the best way I can reach out to my voters. I have lived in these gullies all my life. I was born and brought up here in Girgaum. These people know me personally and they like it when I climb their buildings and meet them through their window. Of course they take me seriously. Though my methods are unconventional, the janta knows the causes I fight for.

What are you fighting for? What does your constituency require?

I want to introduce civil defence into the school curriculum. Education is very important and I want to add rescue ops and first aid in the curriculum so that children know the basics of civil defence. I want to increase employment and make sure that women are respected.

I understand this change won’t happen immediately. This is a 10-year plan. With the kind of goondaism in this constituency, I believe we should join hands with them and work together to eradicate it. We have been working with the local goondas -- they have great reach and they join me in my protests.

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Image: Gaurav says people like it when he climbs their buildings and meets them through their window while campaigning.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
Tags: Girgaum

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'Mayank Gandhi didn't think I was an aam aadmi to get an AAP ticket'

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Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

What will you do if you win this election?

Civil defence, sanitation, eradicate child labour and empower women.

Why join politics now? Why as an Independent and not from any party?

I wanted to join politics to influence the youth and motivate them.

I wasn’t given a ticket by Mayank Gandhi (head of AAP in Maharashtra) to fight as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate. He didn’t think I was an aam aadmi. He thought I wanted a ticket for power. He said the party gave tickets only to those who have worked at the ground level. Then he went ahead and gave a ticket to Meera Sanyal. I don’t understand what ground level work she has done. I joined (social activist) Anna Hazare in his revolution. I climbed buildings for him to create awareness. Meera Sanyal hasn’t done anything and she got a ticket. If she could get a ticket, I don’t understand why I couldn’t.

What about other parties?

Big parties will not give me a ticket. You need to have a pedigree of politics to join parties like the BJP or Congress or Shiv Sena.

You not being a Marathi could be a reason?

I am as much a Marathi as any Maharashtrian. Just because my surname is Sharma does not mean I am not a Marathi. I was born and brought up here. I speak Marathi and have only known this place my entire life.

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Image: Indian Spider-Man Gaurav Sharma poses for a photograph during election campaigning in Girgaum, Mumbai.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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'Milind Deora said he will transform Mumbai into Shanghai. What happened?'

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Nithya Ramani and Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

Were there any apprehensions before entering the fray?

I was scared but I am a professional martial arts trainer. I don’t mind losing. But I want to be able to educate people and teach them to raise their voice. I know I may not win but that doesn’t matter. If by contesting I am able to bring about some change in people, I think my work is done.

Yeh raajneeti ek bada khel hai (politics is a big game). Someone will win and others will lose and I don’t mind if I lose. I believe it’s arrogant to say I will win. Milind Deora is very arrogant. He thinks he will win. He is following in his father’s footsteps and running the party. He said he will transform Mumbai into Shanghai. What happened?

Do you fear your competitors? Candidates like Milind Deora, Arvind Sawant, Bala Nandgaonkar are experienced and have been in politics for a long time.

They are all power hungry and can only survive as long as they are in power. They will die without power. They cannot come out of their AC cars and AC homes and walk through the gullies of South Mumbai to talk to the people and see what the grass-root level problem is.

I don’t think Meera Sanyal is fit to fight in this constituency. Milind Deora says he will change the situation in South Mumbai. I would like to ask him if he even knows the situation in South Mumbai. How does he plan on changing it?

I’d be scared only if I get threat calls. I haven’t received any as yet. If anyone approaches me with a gun I will be scared, otherwise I can fight off 30 people by myself. Marke azadi nahi chaiye. Those days are gone when one was willing to give one's life for freedom. I want to live, bring about change and enjoy that change.

What’s next after elections? You are not contesting to win…

I will continue reaching out to people. I will conduct seminars and teach children important and basic necessities of life and survival. I will educate people to raise their voice and ask for their demands to be fulfilled.


Image: I don't mind losing but I want to be able to educate people and teach them to raise their voice, says Gaurav Sharma.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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