Chhotey Salim's real name is Salim Ahmad but everyone knows him by the name, 'Chhotey Salim', because he is just over 3 feet tall. Be it a protest, a demonstration or a rally, the man from Bina town, in Sagar district, makes it a point to reach Bhopal and attend it.
However, he is not just a dedicated worker but also a campaigner for the Congress. With civic elections round the corner in Madhya Pradesh, Salim is a busy man these days, as party leaders in different parts of the state want him to come to their areas for campaigning.
Salim had gone across Madhya Pradesh and had also campaigned in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha elections. Earlier, in assembly elections also, he had campaigned extensively.
Though candidates' names will be finalised later this month, the district leaders and those confident about their ticket have begun inviting him to come to their constituency.
"Once the tickets are announced, he will be extremely busy and will go on a whirlwind tour," says a leader at the Pradesh Congress Committee office. "Many candidates now avoid bringing actors for their campaign, as the latter have airs and it is tough to keep them happy, especially, when they go to rural areas."
"In elections for municipal corporations, municipal council and panchayats, the candidates don't have much funds to spend," he says. "Many Congress leaders, especially, those intending to contest mayoral elections, want him to campaign," he further says.
Congress leader and former secretary of the state unit of the party, Akbar Beg says wherever Salim goes, he is liked by the people. "In small places, he is treated as star. The people recognise him and come to meet him. Besides, most auto-rickshaw drivers recognise him and whenever he comes to Bhopal, either they don’t charge him or just take a token amount, and drop him to the PCC office," adds Beg.
Former MP chief minister Digvijaya Singh was so impressed with him that he had picked up Salim and hugged him during Lok Sabha polls. "Chhotey Salim gives short speeches too. But he is more adept in door-to-door campaigning. He is very agile," says Congress leader and special invitee to MPCC, Saeed Ahmad Suroor.
Salim says that he always liked politics and began active with the party when he was barely a teenager. "It was senior leader from Khurai, Chaubey ji, who brought me into politics. Also, my family has been traditional Congress supporters and over the years I became active in the party," says Salim.
How does he sustain himself? "I don't have big needs. I live with my parents. Also, I get concession in travel because I come under physically challenged category," he adds.
Salim, who proudly says he has studied till Class 10 in an English medium school, reveals that he is also a Hafiz (one who has memorised the Holy Quran).
Salim says that dwarfs face lot of problems and it is tough for them to get job. "I wish at least once, one of us gets fielded in elections by any party. No one among us has got the opportunity till date," says Salim.