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Royal scion’s common touch

Hazaribagh, April 4: Hazaribagh MP hopeful from the Congress, Saurabh Narayan Singh didn’t speak in his party president Sonia Gandhi’s Ramgarh rally this afternoon, probably out of deference.

After all, Sonia was hosting her first Lok Sabha 2014 rally in Jharkhand, and that too to canvass for the 39-year-old Singh, who happens to embrace worlds old and new — as an MBA from Australia, an MLA from Hazaribagh Sadar and a scion of Padma dynasty, 17km from Hazaribagh town.

Otherwise, Singh is vocal in his campaigns. After all, in 2009, Singh retained his Vidhan Sabha seat, defeating BJP veteran Deo Dayal Kushwaha, which he did in 2004 too.

When he fought the Hazaribagh MP seat in 2009, he lost to BJP heavyweight Yashwant Sinha by 40,164 votes. But, the relatively modest margin gave Singh hope this year when Yashwant vacated his seat for his son Jayant. Singh makes no bones about the fact that he considers Jayant a “lightweight” and an “outsider”.

“My family’s association with you is over 700 years old. The way my forefathers had served you and this area, I also want to do the same,” he addressed a Barkagaon rally on Thursday.

A day before, he addressed the people of Banji under Mandu Assembly segment, Hazaribagh. “Main sansad mein apki awaaz banunga. (I’ll be your voice in Parliament),” he said.

Singh is old enough to remember the reverence people had for his grandfather Kamakhya Narayan Singh, a cabinet minister of Undivided Bihar’s chief minister Mahamaya Prasad.

People collected sand and dust from under Kamakhya Narayan Singh’s feet. But Kamakhya’s grandson is grounded enough to know that his generation won’t get such respect.

Times have changed.

In his own hard-sell, Singh is more comfortable talking about what he has done for the development of his Assembly constituency as an MLA.

He pushed the Ring Road project in Hazaribagh and started MBA, law and engineering courses at Vinoba Bhave University, he claims. “I also built a network of roads in Karma village, Mandu, I am behind the ambitious Konar project for the town’s water supply,” he says.

“The way I worked as MLA, I promise you to work the same way as an MP to solve your problems,” he tells crowds.

While he wears his “aapka beta” tag with pride, he also refuses steadfastly to be treated as royalty. In 2004, when he contested Assembly elections for the first time, elderly people used to touch his feet as they knew he was a royal scion. Then 29, Singh startled the senior citizens by touching their feet in response.

On April 2, he was seen interacting with youths in Ambajeet village. The MBA in him, trained to trouble-shoot and give solutions, mused: “Good roads and water supply can overhaul the economy of any village.”

The politician in him returned as he quickly made a jab at his rival BJP. “Yahan ki badhali ke liye Yashwantji hee doshi hai. Aap khud hi dekh lein unke kshetra ka kya haal hai (Yashwantji is responsible for the backwardness here. See for yourself what he’s done for this place),” he told The Telegraph.