LUCKNOW: With a long white flowing beard, white robes and a red 'tilak on the forehead, Acharya Pramod Krishnam looks more like a godman and less like a politician, who is set to take on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on May 6 in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress candidate, Krishnam, seems to be an unlikely challenger to Rajnath Singh from the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat.
"Why unlikely? Everyone had high hopes from Rajnath Singh in 2014 but he chose to remain a mute spectator to all that went on. His loyalty was with his government and not his people," the Acharya says as he takes time off in between his campaign.
The credentials of the 56-year-old Krishnam are not known to many. In fact, his persona remains wrapped in intrigue.
Born on January 4, 1965, in a Brahmin family in Bihar He founded the Shri Kalki Foundation in Sambhal and is also the Peethadhishwar of the Kalki Dham.
The Acharya joined the Congress and contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Sambhal but lost.
He denies that he is 'bound to Hinduism'. "I write bhajans and shairi, too. I attend religious programmes and mushairas with the same time fervour. My religion is peace and anyone who tries to disturb it is my rival," he explains.
The Acharya, say his supporters, has been giving lectures on Islam and humanity and his knowledge on these subjects is appreciable.
He says that he decided to challenge a top Bharatiya Janata Party leader only because the party failed to keep its promises.
"In this election campaign, Prime Minister Modi is not talking about 'Skill India', 'Make in India' or even demonetisation. The party has forgotten Ram.
"The Modi government spoke more and acted less on Pakistan.
They brought an ordinance on SC/ST (Act) and triple talaq but forgot Ram temple," he says and adds "Jo Ram ka na hua, woh desh ka kya hoga."
The Acharya also downplays the fact that his name was included in the list of 'fake godmen', issued by the Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad last year. "I do not need the certificate of any organisation. I know what I am doing and will continue to pursue my path," he says.
The Akhara Parishad says that he has been ousted from the group because he does not follow the 'sant parampara' (tradition of saints) and has neither left his home and family, which all genuine saints do.
Acharya Pramod Krishnam also denied that he is a light weight candidate, pitted against the Union Minister. "Just wait and watch and you will be surprised. I do not have money and power but I have the love of the people," he says confidently.
However, Acharya Pramod Kishnam is upset over the fact that Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha has been campaigning for his wife Poonam Sinha who is a Samajwadi candidate in Lucknow.
"Shatrughan Sinha is a senior politician and he should understand the norms and dignity of politics. He did not even visit the Congress office -- but visited the SP office -- and has been singing paeans to SP-BSP leaders. I would certainly want the party high command to take note of this," he ends.