Was it an unhappy father or a veteran Congressman trying to remind the party about his decades-old loyalty as tears rolled down his cheeks at an election meeting on Monday? Wheelchair-bound Union minister Arjun Singh, whose son Ajay and daughter Beena, apart from himself, have been denied tickets, struggled to fight back the tears in full public view.
Singh, a Gandhi family loyalist, has already expressed his displeasure at the Congress overlooking his family. However on Monday, he campaigned extensively in eastern Uttar Pradesh, which goes to poll on April 16, to drive home the point that the “party is supreme.” Singh has gone to the extent of saying that he would “campaign for the Congress candidate... against my daughter,” who is contesting as an Independent from Sidhi.
He was choking over his words and broke down as soon as he had finished the show of loyalty. Singh was seen sobbing and wiping his tears behind the dais at Ballia, during an election rally for Congress candidate Bhola Pandey. Pandey also broke down at seeing Singh’s plight. Later in the evening in Varanasi, an emotional Singh pleaded journalists who asked him about his breakdown, “Please leave it. Don’t bring it up.”
“I was moved seeing all of you,” Singh said after the rally. His supporters said their leader “is perhaps campaigning for the last time, given his health and being emotional was natural.”
The Congress veteran, a man of few words, had stunned the party leadership by publicly criticising the invoking of National Security Act (NSA) against Varun Gandhi.
The Congress veteran’s decision to campaign for the party despite his ailing health is being seen as a move to prove that personal setbacks has not dented his faith in the party. Singh refused to comment on whether the party had been unfair to him.
Interestingly, while seeking votes for the party candidate Dr Rajesh Mishra, the sitting MP from Varanasi, Singh did not refer to either the Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The biggest threats facing the country are communalism, dictatorship and poverty. Our leaders — Pandit Nehru, Indiraji and Rajivji — gave top priority to eradication of poverty,” Singh said.