Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Digvijaya Singh was once a staunch Hindu

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh did not lie when he said in his blog that he is a practising Hindu. He in fact was almost a staunch Hindu when he was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.

I got to know about Digvijaya Singh during my six-year long stay in Bhopal. Two persons were my sources – a senior journalist and a PRO of Digvijaya Singh.

Digvijaya Singh writes in the blog that he performs ‘puja’ for at least half an hour every day. But according to my sources, Digvijaya Singh as the chief minister would spend at least two hours every day in the temple he had set up in his official residence.

He would carry in his suitcase the idols of his deities while travelling.

Digvijaya Singh also strongly believed in black magic. As the chief minister, he only ate the food that was prepared and served by his trusted cook.

A Thakur, Digvijaya Singh relished eating meat. He loved eating barbecued rabbits that were found in abundance in his home in Raghogarh, once a principality; about 200 km north of Bhopal. He became a vegetarian when he became the chief minister.

The Indian Coffee House in Bhopal is the watering hole of journalists. Digvijaya Singh would often drop in and have a candid chat with correspondents. I think he does so even now.

On visiting the coffee house after Uma Bharati had replaced him as the chief minister, Digvijaya Singh sheepishly confessed to a senior journalist, ‘Maine phir se non-veg khana shuru kar diya hai.’

I chuckled when in October, 2011; I read Digvijaya Singh’s tweet – “Have come to Houston for my wife's treatment. Nothing else to do but cook for the family. My forte pork chops and steaks (not beef)”. So he specifically mentioned that he did not eat beef.
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Many say that Digvijaya Singh often puts his foot in his mouth. That may be true. But I appreciate him for his sense of humour and his ability to laugh; at times even at himself.

All politicians, irrespective of their party look petulant. The list has no end – Sonia Gandhi, LK Advani, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, MM Joshi, Mayawati…….So unlike the politicians of the US or UK.

Even those  who regularly appear on television seem to be dyspeptic – Manish Tiwari, Renuka Choudhry, Shakeel Ahmed, Rashid Alavi, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman……

Politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Digvijaya Singh (I can’t recall any other political leader who is always ready to guffaw) are perhaps exceptional and rare.

Digvijaya Singh laughed loudly even when his party lost to the BJP in the assembly elections in 2003.
Power was a major issue in the elections and once the elections results were declared, the press said Digivijaya Singh has suffered an electric shock.

As the outgoing chief minister, Digivijaya Singh ending his press conference said, ‘Mujhe bijli ka jhatka lagne ka sawaal hi nahi hota. Kyon ki Pradesh mein bijli toh thhee hi hahin,’ and guffawed. 

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