In his 70 years, BJP politician Nand Kumar Sai has been without salt for 46. He has a reason.
As an anti-liquor crusader, Sai had visited a remote village in Madhya Pradesh in 1970 when he ran into a tribal who had him flummoxed.
“Can you stop consuming salt?” the tribal man asked. “Liquor is as important for us as salt is for you”.
Sai took the pledge of not having it. “My life has been without salt since that day,” he told HT as he recalled the incident.
But Sai is not an exception. The list of politicians with unique habits and preferences is long.
According to Congress leaders, party president Sonia Gandhi was not too fond of purple colour. So much so that she once had flowers of the colour removed from a function.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has a preference for number 6 and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s wardrobe has a colour code.
So, the registration plates of Jaitley’s fleet of cars have four ‘6’, Swaraj wears fixed colours on days — such as white on Monday, yellow on Thursday.
Home minister Rajnath Singh can’t miss his daily pooja. And if he does, Singh makes up for it by chanting mantras even while travelling in a car or plane. He shares these habits with some Congress leaders.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, when travelling, carries his ‘griha devta’ (idol of a deity) in his suitcase so as not to miss offering prayers. Congress leader V Narayansamy is often seen meditating on his berth in the train.
Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu never had tea or coffee after his father’s death. The BJP leader’s father asked him to have only buttermilk saying that tea and coffee are not good for health.
Also, whenever Naidu travels abroad, he carries two bottles of pickle — tamarind and black gram — with him. “He can’t do without them,” said an aide.
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, on the other hand, doesn’t carry a purse or bag with her and when she is taking someone out for a dinner she would tie currency notes in one corner of her saree or dupatta.
“I only carry my specs and mobile phone when I leave home. If I need some money in an emergency than I borrow from the security staff accompanying me and give it back later,” Gandhi says.
A pet lover, Gandhi has 22 dogs in her house, all of them picked from the streets. Most have one or the other disability. “Since no one will keep them, I bring them home,” she says.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, has stopped eating cereals for the last many years and now survives just on fruit, vegetable and sweet.
Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad does not carry any mobile as he finds the device too complicated.
Junior minister for urban development Babul Supriyo is a teetotaler – a promise he made to himself when he was struggling to get a foothold in Bollywood as a professional singer. As the story goes, a producer met Supriyo at a party and asked to drop in at his office.
Next day, he did not recognise Supriyo and was clueless about any job promise. Supriyo realised the promise was made under the influence of alcohol and since then he hasn’t touched it.