Indian election casts spotlight on Modi lookalikes | India Election 2024 News

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Indian election casts spotlight on Modi lookalikes | India Election 2024 News

Muslim electric rickshaw driver Rashid Ahmed is fondly called “Our Modi” in his Delhi neighbourhood for his striking resemblance to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now seeking a third consecutive term in the ongoing general elections.

If, as widely anticipated, Modi wins the polls, which conclude on June 1 with vote counting set for June 4, he will be only the second leader after Indian independence hero and first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to serve three consecutive terms.

“I have been like this from the beginning. But since Modi has become prime minister, there has been more discussion of it,” said Ahmed, 60, whose white hair and beard, trimmed like Modi’s, along with similar clothing, spurred the comparison.

Living with his wife, children and grandchildren in a two-room home, Ahmed is a celebrity in the surrounding area and is often interrupted at his daily tasks by visitors who want to meet him or take pictures with him.

He is known only as “Modi uncle” to the children there, many of whom he drives to school every day.

Ahmed has also attended rallies of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a prime ministerial lookalike, exciting those in the crowd who initially mistook him for the leader.

Such events have earned him about 1,000 rupees ($12) each, about what he gets from his rickshaw driver’s job each day.

“People do give us money [for the rallies] and we also have to take it because we are leaving work,” he said.

Ahmed is one of several prime ministerial lookalikes, from a businessman in the financial capital of Mumbai to a food vendor in Modi’s western home state of Gujarat, to have featured in BJP campaigns.

Another Modi lookalike is Jagdish Bhatia, 68, who runs a real estate business in a more affluent area of the capital and belongs to a spiritual sect independent of any religion.

He says he does not accept money for attending BJP rallies because he considers the task a “social service” since he likes Modi’s vision.

“I really liked the way Modi worked, the things he did for the development of the country,” Bhatia added. “That is why I like to be of some use to the party.”

Bhatia accentuates his similarity to Modi by altering his clothing style to match, though Ahmed dismisses his own resemblance to the leader as coincidental.

“Only time will tell,” Ahmed replied to a query about the election outcome. “We just want that there should be good work … development should happen on all sides … everyone should be together.”