Ankit Love, 32, a J&K born British citizen, is out on the streets of London busy campaigning for his election as London mayor. He has been interviewed by London Live TV, ITV, BBC etc. If elected he will build a million homes for the homeless, take measures to reduce air pollution and legalise cannabis.
If this isn’t enough to interest you, here is more: He calls himself the exiled emperor of Jammu and Kashmir and traces his lineage to the last Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh. He issues decrees, calls on India and Pakistan to vacate his kingdom and issues statements on the developments in the state.
For example, J&K Government’s recent order on the registration of the Whatsapp groups in the state invoked his ire. “Absolutely ridiculous! All governments except mine are illegally operating in J&K. And my law is to banish anyone making people register for a license for a WhatsApp group. And my decree is sovereign and final! Think carefully now you are not pleasing your Emperor!,” he said in a post on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He is also sore at NHPC’s use of J&K’s water resources for power and terms it “robbery on top of insult.”
Love “now reigns in exile with the hope to return soon to Jammu and Kashmir,” his blog states adding the emperor “desires to rebuild his sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir as a modern and advanced 21st century nation yet retaining spirituality.”
Though Love’s royal claims evoke laughter, he comes from an influential political family in J&K. His father Bhim Singh is the founder of the Panther’s party, a Jammu based regional party which claims to represent the aspirations of the region. Singh is also the kinsman of the veteran Congress leader Dr Karan Singh, the son of the last Maharaja of Kashmir and according to Wikipedia “is a descendant of the Wazir and General Zorawar Singh of the royal Dogra clan, referred to by historians as ‘Conqueror of Ladakh’”.
Love was sent to London in 1989 where he studied at the American Community School in Surrey. His Facebook account introduces him as a music artist, actor, film-maker and designer. He claims to have studied Shakespearean acting at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His LinkedIn account says that his film “Whale” and the documentary “Runners” was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.
But when London mayor elections were called, he borrowed 10,000 dollars needed to throw his hat in the ring. Now he is one of the twelve candidates in the fray and needs five percent votes to ensure that he doesn’t forfeit his deposit. However, only two of them actually stand any chance of winning on Thursday – the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith, or Labour’s Sadiq Khan, son of a Pakistani immigrant.
But Ankit’s One Love Party hasn’t given up. He is there to fight to the finish. He is campaigning individually on London’s streets and also putting out posts, tweets and videos on social media. His campaign video has been shared widely. He claims it has been viewed around 2,00,000 times so far.
His message to his potential voters is: “Vote Ankit Love and have an emperor as your Mayor. Now you can’t beat that.”
And also: “With me you get a Maharaja as your Mayor… we are the best!”