Who is a seasoned politician? One who is patient, never looks tired or sick, travels endlessly and meets countless number of people. More importantly, he remembers the names of all those he meets, and their family members.
With all such attributes, N. Dharam Singh, former Chief Minister and Congress candidate from the Bidar Lok Sabha constituency, fits the bill.
An early riser, Mr. Singh starts his day by reading dozens of newspapers. After a bath, he says his prayers and is ready for breakfast. It is here that he meets his visitors. His assistants do not recall the names of the visitors. Mr. Singh does.
His plan for the day includes visiting some villages in Bidar taluk. The 10-km ride to Benakanahalli, however, seems to take an hour as people keep stopping his car at every cross road. On his way, he visits temples and offers puja, and talks to party workers over ‘soosla-mirchi’ and tea in the houses of supporters.
Someone complains to him that a fellow party worker is lazy. “Don’t get into all that,” Mr. Singh tells him. “You have to take every one along. Infighting will not help. Nothing is achieved in politics overnight. You have to keep working for many years,” he says.
This seems to explain how the leader from the Rajput community, a micro minority in Karnataka, has survived in a system driven by caste for over four decades.
He identifies each one in the crowd that has gathered along the road. “You are Nagappa’s son, right? How is your elder brother who lives in Maharashtra? He came to meet me when I went there last month,” he tells a young boy.Lunch break
Mr. Singh’s car then stops at a roadside dhaba where he savours the simple meal of bajra roti and eggplant curry. “North Karnataka cuisine is healthy and tasty. You can have it every day,” he says.
By evening, he returns to the city to address a group of young people. “There is no Narendra Modi wave in Karnataka. It is the [Chief Minister] Siddaramaiah wave you all are feeling. [Mr.] Modi is a sayer, but [Mr.] Siddaramaiah is a doer. You have to support leaders who work hard and not those who go around making speeches,” he tells them.
“It is not true that all young people are attracted by [Mr.] Modi. Can you see the large number of young people here, he asks one of his supporters.
Mr. Singh has another defining attribute of a seasoned politician. He has mastered the art of intelligent listening; he seems to hear only those questions and comments he likes. Ask him something he does not like, and he remains unmoved.