Jaivardhan Singh, 27, son of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, is in the thick of political action seeking election from the family bastion of the Raghogarh assembly constituency in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh.
Jaivardhan, who returned this year from the US with a master’s in public administration from Columbia University, has an easy appeal with the electorate; the seat has been held by his family since 1977 by his father, his uncle and another relative, and, with his debut, hopes for an unbroken record of Congress victory from this seat. He is pitted against advocate Radhe Shyam Dhakad of the BJP.
Jaivardhan’s day begins at 9 am when he sets out to ‘work’ in the constituency. He has visited “each and every house” in the last two years, when he embarked on his political career through a series of padyatras while he was still a student at Columbia. The series of padyatras, incidentally, were the ‘tests’ his father put him through to check if he was up for the grind.
His day usually ends at about 2am now when he returns home to rest. Old family retainers pack meals for him and his entourage while they are out campaigning. A usual meal is poori and aalu ki sabji or parathas and palak and the evening snack is fruits and milk. Meals are sometimes had on the move or in a village where the convoy halts to campaign. He is driven around in a Pajero with a follow-up vehicle equipped with a public address system.
“A lot has been done in the constituency by my father but a lot still needs to be done,” he said, adding that he wants the youth to, in fact, demand more.
The youth seem enthused by his candidature while old-timers recall the 1977 assembly election at the peak of the Janata Party wave when Jaivardhan’s father, Digvijaya Singh, was elected for the first time on a Congress ticket.
“It was while working for a consultancy that I realised politics was my calling,” said the Doon School and Shri Ram College of Commerce alumnus. “I’ve watched my father closely in politics and it never fails to fascinate me,” said Jaivardhan. Digvijaya Singh has often said he was against his son joining politics but gave in after his son proved persistent. To what extent is his father involved in his political career? “Not much, I discuss things with him but usually he lets me do things on my own. In fact, he wants me to do things on my own,” said Jaivardhan.
The Congress candidate said he has had “no rest” in the past five months but does listen to music, when he can. On campaign trail, he wears the regulation white cotton kurta-pyjama along with sneakers as campaigning involves a lot of walking.
“Walking helps me keep fit as there is hardly any time for proper exercise. My campaign is people-centric but I do use technology to keep records of voters. I use my iPhone for navigation in case I get lost in the rural areas,” he said.
Jaivardhan’s affidavit filed at the time of nomination mentions an income from agriculture and rent. The total value of his assets is Rs. 2.94 crore.