Lucknow, Jan 29 (PTI) He’s not quite the doppelganger and there is the question of the scraggly, overgrown beard that Rahul Gandhi now sports. But Mohammad Faisal Chaudhary is close enough to the former Congress chief in looks for those flocking to take selfies with him and says he is sometimes even mobbed.
The 24-year-old Congress worker from Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh finds himself the subject of curiosity, particularly for those who haven’t met Gandhi or seen him up close, and also the centre of attention on social and other media platforms.
"At times, people confuse me with Rahul Gandhi and even express their grievances and problems. Sometimes, people crowd around me, and there are so many that I have to hide my face and escape,” Chaudhary, who is on his way to Srinagar as part of the Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra, told PTI in a phone interview.
He joined the yatra in Delhi.
And much like his party leader who at 52 is more than double his age, the farmer makes sure to wear a white T-shirt. "As soon as the yatra entered Uttar Pradesh, I started wearing a white T-shirt." Sporting a brown trimmed beard, very unlike Gandhi’s salt and pepper one now, he said he has to wear a jacket sometimes to hide his face to escape scrutiny from passers-by who rush to take a picture.
The Gandhi resemblance – at least from a distance – was pointed to him two years ago.
"People told me that my face resembles that of Rahul Gandhi to a significant extent. And when more and more people started saying this, I also started believing it." He recalls in detail his face to face meeting with Gandhi. "It was on January 12 during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Rahul-ji saw me, smiled and called me towards him. He spoke to me, and asked me where I live, what I do. The conversation lasted for around five minutes. I got a photograph of myself clicked with Rahul-ji. He also asked me how long I had been with the Congress," Chaudhary said.
Chaudhary, whose father was also with the Congress, has been with the party as a worker for the last three years. And that meeting with Gandhi, he said, was like a pre-birthday gift – his birthday was on January 22.
The resident of Mawana tehsil in Meerut district is hoping for a more active stint in politics. He was in college but could not complete his BA because of his father’s death and is now farming.
He has made his photograph with Gandhi his display picture and said the calls are pouring in.
"My friends, family members and people who know me in the district are very happy and keep calling me up to congratulate me. As of now, I wish to retain this look." Gandhi’s white T-shirt, no sweater look in north India’s cold winter – a topic of much discussion – should not be an issue, he said.
“The issue should be unemployment, spread of (communal) hatred, poverty and problems faced by the farmers." The Congress unit in Meerut is well aware of his popularity.
"Mohammad Faisal Chaudhary is a Congress party worker. People take selfies with him, because he resembles Rahul Gandhi jee. He is also called 'Chhota Rahul Gandhi'," said Congress’ Meerut unit president Avneesh Kajla.
The young man does resemble Gandhi from a distance, added Chaudhary Yashpal Singh.
"Those who have not seen Rahul Gandhi face-to-face generally rush towards him to take selfies and click photographs," he said.
For the moment at least, Chaudhary’s face could well be his fortune. PTI NAV MIN MIN MIN