A chaiwala of Dharmasala block in race for Zilla Parishad seat

The tea seller hardly has any money to spend on poll campaigns and is visiting people at their doorsteps to seek their votes.
Gangadhar Mallick selling tea at his stall in Dharmasala block. (Photo | Express)
Gangadhar Mallick selling tea at his stall in Dharmasala block. (Photo | Express)

JAJPUR: A tea seller of Dharmasala block in the district has thrown his hat in the ring for the Zilla Parishad (ZP) member post in the upcoming three-tier panchayat elections.Gangadhar Mallick, popularly known as ‘Ganga chaiwala’, is contesting from ZP zone-11 on a Congress ticket. The 43-year-old candidate owns a stall at Kabata Bandha Brahmani bridge and has been selling tea there for the last 25 years to make ends meet.

This is the third time Gangadhar is trying his luck in the polls. He had successfully contested for the post of samiti member from Raichhanda panchayat in 2012. In 2017 rural polls, he tried to retain the seat but lost it by a narrow margin.Sources said many Congress workers had sought ticket to contest from ZP zone-11 seat this time, but it was this tea seller who bagged it, solely because of his popularity among the locals.

Gangadhar, a matriculate, said he decided to enter politics after witnessing sorry plight of people in his area. “There were no roads, drinking water supply and healthcare facilities in my native Barkana village a decade back. Most of the people were daily wagers. Many deserving beneficiaries were not given old age and widow pension besides ration cards to get subsidised PDS goods even after repeated requests to the then leaders. I was moved by the plight of villagers and decided to contest the rural elections,” he said.

The tea seller hardly has any money to spend on poll campaigns and is visiting people at their doorsteps to seek their votes. His friends and family are helping him meet some expenses though. “I not only enjoy the backing of Congress workers but also have full support of the people of the entire ZP zone. My wife, who is a graduate and homemaker, is helping me make poll strategies and manage campaigning,” he informed.
Gangadhar said he is confident of winning the election and promised to develop all 130 wards coming under the ZP zone if elected. Zone-11 consists of nine gram panchayats with around 32,000 voters.

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