On April 24, Mumbai will get the chance to vote a superhero to parliament. Gaurav Sharma, alias Spiderman, is a 32-year-old independent candidate from south Mumbai, who is better known for climbing buildings for publicity campaigns. Two weeks ago, clad in a crude Spiderman costume, Sharma filed his nomination papers. Appropriately, his election symbol, allotted earlier this week, is a window.

His campaigning technique is simple: he scales buildings, pokes his head into windows and delivers a brief message: “Hello everyone, this is Gaurav Sharma, the Spiderman. Do vote for the Spiderman in the coming general election. Love you. Thank you so much.”

Sharma, who is a motivational trainer at Life Skills Education Worldwide, has been climbing buildings since 2009, when he scaled Shreepati Arcade, then the tallest building in India, on Republic Day. His first climb occurred for no better reason than he felt like it. “I was walking down Nana Chowk [in central Mumbai], when I saw this building, and wanted to know more about it,” he said. When he realised it was in the Limca Book of Records, he decided to secure his own place in the book by becoming the first person to climb it.

The police did not believe him when he approached them for permission. “They thought I wanted to commit suicide,” he said. “Then they kept telling me to go to a doctor instead.” It eventually took him three months to get permission for the climb that lasted 19 minutes and four seconds.

Once he began, he was unstoppable. He climbed for Anna Hazare's India Against Corruption, and for other publicity events. The media were the first to call him Spiderman. He donned the uniform only after deciding to contest the election.

Sharma is a native of south Mumbai and has worked for several years with NGOs involved with education. “I was born and brought up in Girgaum,” he told Scroll.in. “You could say I know every galli, every gutter of this place.”

He believes that going to parliament would help him take his work to a larger section of the public. “It is possible to reach the masses only when you’re in politics,” he said. “When you’re in the NGO sector, you have to get funding, nobody treats you properly.”

Sharma initially wanted to contest as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate, but was “not entertained” despite his background with the party. Undeterred, he decided to pitch as an independent candidate. “Who is Meera Sanyal?” he asked. “She was fortunate to get a seat. She was not a member of IAC or AAP before this. She is just a corporate face.”

He is less confident about his chances against the three candidates from big parties such as the Shiv Sena, Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, but he points out that there are 15 other independent candidates in the race.

“The best part about my campaign is that I can capture sentiment,” Sharma said. “The other independent candidates can’t reach out to so many voters, but when Spiderman climbs, people want to watch.”

He still gets scared while scaling heights, he said. “Pigeons and crows might suddenly fly into you. There are lots of difficult thoughts in your head: your life is at stake, your image is at stake, thousands of people are watching.” His solution is to ignore all of that, “enjoy the fame and above all, have fun”.

But the man who once scaled a 45-floor building is more cautious about just how high he's going to take his campaign. “These days, I only climb to the first and second floor, talk to anyone inside the room, and move ahead,” he said. “I do not want to promote risk-taking among children who might be watching.”