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Operation vote bank for surgeon

- Nitish’s dedication inspires doctor to contest election against Shotgun

At 74, Gopal Prasad Sinha can only widen his spectrum to serve the people. As a doctor, and a Lok Sabha aspirant, he can’t ask for more.

The renowned neurologist has a tough job this summer: successful operation at Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat.

Gopal Prasad is contesting on a JD(U) ticket to take on incumbent Shatrughan Sinha from the constituency, known as the BJP citadel for decades.

Whenever Gopal Prasad visits villages in the rural Patna to ask for votes, villagers come up with their problems. He has to move with his stethoscope on public demand. “I oblige them as it’s my profession. I am confident that I will get the votes of my patients,” he told The Telegraph.

Hundreds of people from across the state regularly visit his clinic near the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) but Gopal Prasad feels he might have to shut it down temporarily till voting is over in Patna Sahib. The constituency goes to poll on April 17. “I will close my clinic from Thursday as I intend to devote a full month to campaign across the constituency,” he said.

People in the city are not unfamiliar with a doctor becoming their representative in Parliament. Dr C.P. Thakur, the BJP vice-president, represented Patna thrice. “It’s just a coincidence that Thakur has been my teacher when I was a student of PMCH,” Gopal Prasad quipped. Thakur, as the Lok Sabha MP, always faced criticism that he was a “part-time doctor and part-time MP”. But he said: “If I win, I will be a full-time MP.”

Gopal Prasad has been the personal physician of many politicians, including seven successive chief ministers. “But till six months ago, I never thought of entering politics and contesting polls. But then I felt there was a need for strengthening this government because of the speed of development taking place in Bihar since the last eight years. As his personal physician, I have seen Nitish’s dedication with no personal agenda. I thought I had achieved everything my profession could offer. As a doctor, I can just treat patients but as a politician, I can contribute to education, health, roads and irrigation among other facilities and basic needs,” said Gopal Prasad, who was awarded with Padma Shri.

It’s been a long road for Gopal Prasad, who as a youth of 27, used to pedal his cycle in the Naxalite-hit Sahar block in Ara to see patients in 1967. “People now vote on account of road, law and order and availability of power. As professor and head of the department of medicine and neurology of PMCH, I conducted exams in medical colleges in Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur for three days without electricity. Today, these towns get 24-hour power and even my native village in Kaimur gets 16 hours of electricity,” he said.

Yet the doctor knows that he is up against a formidable opponent in the BJP and Shatrughan. “Politics never remains stagnant. Around 65 per cent of the voters belong to the younger generation. The grip of caste and communalism is weakening in them. They will vote for development. It’s the ground reality, which matters at present,” he added.