Vadodara: Firoz Momin wears his “I am a Rahul Gandhi fan” badge with pride. When the Congress president camped in Vadodara during the campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections, the 40-year-old rickshaw driver went so far as to offer an 18 percent discount to his passengers, notwithstanding the hit his earnings would take.

“Even though I am the only earning member of my family, I was okay about earning less on one day. A chance to meet Rahulji would have compensated for all of my losses,” said Momin, who earns Rs1,000 a day on average.

Momin said he has admired Gandhi for more than 15 years now. “I am a common man and I want to meet Rahulji, even it is for just a few seconds. It would have been a dream come true if he would have sat inside my auto once. For me, he is nothing less than a hero,” he said.

He moved a step closer to this goal when Narendra Ravat, the Congress candidate for the Sayajigunj constituency in Vadodara for the assembly polls, approached him. “He was impressed by my dedication to the party and asked me to help him during campaigning. I lent my rickshaw to get voters to polling booths and was also given charge of a booth,” Momin said.

Next, he wants to join the Congress as a ground-level worker and impress his icon with his work.

“I could not meet him when he came to the city, but I am hoping that looking at my work and commitment to the Congress party, Rahulji will meet me,” he said.

The rickshaw driver had to stop his studies after Class 10 owing to his family responsibilities, but he is making sure both his children complete their education. While his daughter is studying in Class VI, his son is pursuing a degree in law at a private college.

Momin, unfazed by jokes made at Gandhi’s expense, says the Congress president “is a young, modern and charming political figure. With his family in politics for decades, he knows how to lead. I want to see him as the next Prime Minister of India. He will prove to be a good leader and he has the potential in him.”

While still waiting for his fanboy moment with the Gandhi scion that he is sure will happen in the future, Momin says, “Just one meeting and the memories will stay for a lifetime. My entire family are fans and we will pray that the Congress party gets to form the government at the Centre soon.”

Darshana Shukla tweets at @dasholime

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