Om Prakash Rajbhar: From driving auto-rickshaw to steering party in political lane
Om Prakash Rajbhar said that if not a politician, he would have been a progressive farmer today as it is his only interest apart, from politics
The life of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, 60, is an apt reflection of the saying “sweet are the uses of adversity”. Having seen extreme poverty in his growing days, Rajbhar was an auto-rickshaw driver in Varanasi before entering into full-fledged politics.
“Auto chalate-chalate, sarkar chalane lag gaya (while driving an auto, I started driving the government),” said Om Prakash Rajbhar laughingly while taking a trip down memory lane at the Coffee with HT programme at the Hindustan Time in Lucknow on Thursday.
“We had a lot of financial challenges when I was studying. I’d borrow books from others and would wear clothes borrowed from my cousins. I used to walk to school till Intermediate (Class 12) and got a bicycle only in college. My father had five brothers, but when the family split, we were stricken by poverty even more and we had to start working,” Om Prakash Rajbhar said.
“I would plough 1350 square feet of farmland, that too before going to school,” Om Prakash Rajbhar added.
Rajbhar said he drove an auto-rickshaw on the streets of his hometown Varanasi for two-and-a-half years between 1981-1983 to support his studies and the family.
“I would drive an auto-rickshaw at night and go to school in the morning.”
Om Prakash Rajbhar said he also had a role as a farmer and would go to morning vegetable mandis to sell his produce. He also said that if not a politician, he would have been a progressive farmer today as it is his only interest apart, from politics.
“I used to go to the morning mandis to sell the produce of our farms. Initially, it was embarrassing to carry sacks full of vegetables being a graduate, but later I got used to it as my only aim was to earn money,” said Rajbhar. He claimed he had received Rs. 5,5000 as a reward from the agriculture department back then for growing improved varieties of vegetables.
Om Prakash Rajbhar said he left four jobs, including a few government ones, as his father denied permission for some of them.
“I got a job as a forest ranger, police sub-inspector, an inter college job and commercial farming. However, my father denied (permission for) some and I turned down some others. Perhaps, I was destined to enter politics.”
He also spoke about the significance of the yellow (pitamber) colour of his party and the yellow gamcha (towel) that he carries.
“Just like Kanshi Ram adopted the blue colour of Ambedkar who wore a blue coat, so did I adopt the yellow colour of Maharaja Suheldev,” the SBSP chief said.
Besides, yellow is associated with agriculture, the spring season when mustard flowers are in bloom, he said. Clothes of this colour are also significant in puja and other auspicious occasions, he added.