Benudhar Barik, an 80-year-old barber who is fondly known as Benu mausa (uncle), is inspiring the younger generations with slow cycle rides to well-trodden routes for campaigning in Odisha’s Balasore. He is contesting for the Balasore Sadar seat as an independent candidate in the sate by-election, to be scheduled on November 3.

Locals that know Benu come forward to touch his feet during his lone campaigning. Unlike his competitors who are organising rallies, Benu carry a single poster with his name, picture and election symbol fixed on the cycle’s handle.

“I never thought I would contest a election because I never had the funds to do so. But I am aging and my only pursuit in life is to be able to help people in need. If I win the election, I can do better for the people as a people’s representative. Irrespective of whether I become an MLA or not, I would continue to do so,” Benu told The Indian Express.

Professionally too, Benu roams around the region and sets up his barber shop under trees. He has been doing this for the past six decades and thus, he recognisable among the residents.

Talking about how his profession has helped him connect with the people over the years, Benu said: “It has also given me an innate understanding of the troubles in individual hamlets and settlements.”