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Daddy’s Independent girl voices Arjun’s pain

india Updated: Apr 20, 2009 00:25 IST
Hindustan Times
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An emotionally broken father. A fighter of a daughter. An estranged son. And a high-falutin conflict.

Dau Sahib’s pocket borough — Sidhi parliamentary constituency on Madhya Pradesh’s northeastern border with Uttar Pradesh — is witnessing a fast unfolding family drama with all the necessary ingredients this election season.

HRD Minister Arjun Singh (79) has been hiding his disappointment over the denial of a Congress ticket to his daughter Veena Singh (56), but she is unsparing in articulating how her father has been “wronged”.

When Veena is contesting as an Independent, Singh’s son Ajay (55) represents the Congress from the Churhat assembly seat, part of Sidhi. It’s now the father-daughter combine against the son, as Ajay vehemently opposed Veena’s revolt against the Congress.

Although Veena started her campaign on April 8, her Pajero arrived at her brother’s Churhat assembly segment nine days later on Friday. For, she saved the most intense part of her fight for the last.

Veena’s emotionally charged campaign is mainly revolving around Singh — the patriarch’s bonding with the region, his decision to challenge

the Congress in 1957 and his being slighted in the party circles. She said, “I can never forget how my father was agonised when I was denied a Congress ticket.”

As only a few days are left for campaigning, Veena is meeting some key persons in select villages, who are supposed to organise gatherings for her.

First, one of the persons would tell the audience why Veena Didi was forced to contest as an Independent. Then, he would dwell on Arjun Singh’s long association with the region and the injustice he had suffered. Veena would enter the scene only after that.

Her first target is almost always a section of the Congress leadership. “Vindhya kshetra, Churhat aur Sidhi ke har mitti ke kan me Dau Saheb ka nam gunj raha hai. Per unkee barhtee umra ko dekhkar kuch bade Congress neta unko darkinar karne ki koshish kar rahe hain. (Every dust particle of the Vindhya region, Sidhi and Churthat resonates with Singh’s name, but some Congress leaders are trying to marginalise him, taking advantage of his age).”

Then she would make an emotional appeal for vote — “Ab ye hamare aur aap sabke atmsamman ki ladai hai. Agar unka rin thoda bhi hai to pehli baar unki beti khadi hui hai. use jitaayen (Now, it is a fight for our self-respect. If you owe anything to Arjun Singh, please elect his daughter contesting for the first time).”

After addressing the men’s gatherings, she would go inside the village huts to mingle with the womenfolk and, sitting on the floor, would remind them that she was both their daughter and daughter-in law, since her husband is from Singrauli in the same region.