‘Not about local issues’: Tinu keeps Modi central
Seen as a new-generation Dalit leader, Shiromani Akali Dal’s sitting MLA and now Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat nominee Pawan Kumar Tinu is keen to strike a personal chord with every voter possible. The day, therefore, begins early.punjab Updated: Apr 18, 2014 09:01 IST
Seen as a new-generation Dalit leader, Shiromani Akali Dal’s sitting MLA and now Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat nominee Pawan Kumar Tinu is keen to strike a personal chord with every voter possible. The day, therefore, begins early.
It’s 5am and Tinu’s cavalcade is set to hit the campaign trail in the constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Castes. But as we spot some non-party faces, he is quick to postpone our plans, “Sorry, I cannot take you to the place where I am going.” He tells the HT team to meet him on the outskirts of the city at 7am, while he goes to pay “secret” homage at an important dera (religious sect).
When we meet, he is frank: “Here I am! Ki kariye?Dere v bahut important hai Doabe vich... (What to do? You know how important deras are in Doaba).” Two bananas make up for a quick breakfast.
After picking cabinet minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur from his residence on Mahavir Marg, the cavalcade heads towards Kartarpur assembly segment, where at 9am Tinu addresses a gathering of more than 100 villagers at Lambra.
Aware of anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, Tinu talks of national issues. “Eh election galliyan naaliyan da election nahi. Na hi tuhade pind di koi samasya da hai. Eh election apne desh de bhavikh da hai, jis di badi maadi halat kar ditti ehna Congressian ne (This election is not about petty civic issues. This is about the country looted by the Congress.),” he says, adding, “Sirf Modi vekho, jedi lehar purey desh vich hai. Dekheyo kitey Punjab pichhe na reh jaaye (See only [BJP’s PM pick Narendra] Modi and his wave. Punjab must not be left behind.” In a quaint turn of events, a man said to be a Congress supporter, who runs a hardware shop in the village, comes to Tinu and offers his vote because of “personal ties”. Tinu visits his shop.
Meanwhile, Phillaur leaves for the next village, Singan, as Tinu pays a visit to a senior Congressman of Lambra where he has apple juice and dry fruits. Referring to his Congress rival Chaudhary Santokh Singh and his brother Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, he says, “Congressmen are fed up with the Chaudhary family. They have just exploited the caste card.”
His address at Singan includes buzz words and internet-speak: “Enter the words ‘most corrupt party in the world’ in Google. And you will get ‘Indian National Congress’.”
Spotting women sitting in a group away from the meeting place, Tinu goes to them too and discusses price rise. “Mata (mother), beware of the Congress. If you vote for it again, sugar will be ` 100 a kg.”
It’s a test for Tinu’s political skills when at Kalyanpur, a few SAD workers openly criticise sitting MLA Phillaur. While Phillaur goes away, Tinu pacifies them. “Your resentment is against the minister and I will convey that to deputy CM Sukhbir Badal. He knows how to tackle that.” The workers then raise slogans in Tinu’s support.
In the car, when HT poses a question about Phillaur, Tinu remains wary, “There are certain issues, but I will handle these.”
The cavalcade next enters Nijjran; it’s 2pm and the sun is harsh, yet the smile and enthusiasm on Tinu’s face remains intact. Large presence of youth during the fifth rally of the day makes him more cheerful as he asks his personal media team to capture them in the camera. Here he lists his achievements and special efforts to promote sports while remaining chief parliamentary secretary for sports in the Badal government. He refers to Modi as “gareeb da bachcha” (a poor man’s son) and Congress as “lootereyan da tola” (gang of robbers).
A former student leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Tinu’s strength is his mass base as, before joining the SAD in 2005, he contested on BSP ticket from erstwhile Phillaur LS seat in 2004.
After lunch and meeting with young workers and leaders unhappy with Phillaur, Tinu lands at Chitti. In the evening, he addresses three meetings in Jalandhar West till 10pm. The campaign ends with another closed-door meeting with his core group at the house of his key aide, Charanjit Channi, the SAD’s district president.