Want to be commoners’ voice: Patiala Congress candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi : The Tribune India

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Want to be commoners’ voice: Patiala Congress candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi

Want to be commoners’ voice: Patiala Congress candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi

Congress candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi during an election meeting in Patiala on Tuesday. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, May 21

Decades ago, cartoonist RK Laxman got famous for his “common man” cartoon in which the common man was highlighted as silent and voiceless. But, currently, the common man’s candidate is neither voiceless nor silent as Dr Dharamvira Gandhi is giving his rivals a run for their money in the ongoing campaign by voicing popular discussions of the common man.

“It’s a battle between those who fight and speak for the wealthy and those who become the voice of the poor,” former MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi tells villagers, seeking vote for him to ensure that the voice of the common man reaches Parliament. “All pillars of the Indian democracy are in danger and have been run over by the BJP. The Congress is the only alternative to it,” says Gandhi, who joined the Congress in April earlier this year.

During his campaigns, he mostly talk about issues, which other candidates are happy to skip, like curbing synthetic drugs by legitimising farming of traditional opium and poppy husk. No votes are sought in the name of religion, mudslinging on rival candidates or by personal allegations. “I am here to tell you that if your former MPs had done their work with dedication, conditions around you would have been far better. I am here to change it for the best,” says Dr Gandhi.

Taking the bull by the horn is the mantra of this socialist by soul and a cardiologist by profession, and is known as a rebel without a pause. From his stand against the Emergency in 1977 and the dark days of militancy in Punjab in the 80s, he even rebelled against the leadership of the AAP, which backed his debut in Parliament in 2014.

Facing the likes of four-time MP and BJP’s Preneet Kaur, Cabinet minister Dr Balbir Singh and SAD’s real estate tycoon NK Sharma, Dr Gandhi’s campaign has some unique features. While all candidates arrange for workers to get crowds and also make arrangements for them, Dr Gandhi is the only leader whose own charisma attracts people to his events to listen to his short and crisp speeches on a variety of issues, with which not many candidates are comfortable.

During his visit to villages, he openly advocates legalising opium cultivation in the state, claiming that synthetic drugs have killed hundreds of youngsters in Punjab. “Chitta maarda hai par bhukki afeem howe taa chitaa kaun lau (synthetic drugs kill but if opium and poppy husk are available, no one will buy synthetic drugs),” he says, as villagers raise slogans in his favour.

From sitting on mats with farm labourers or carrying a chair for himself to address gatherings, Dr Gandhi has managed to run his campaign with an undertone that if you “oppose or don’t like him, you are either a bhakt or the ones backing the rich”.

“You see politicians have a habit of visiting their workers in their constituencies for religious events and weddings. I may not be able to do that, but will be your voice in the Lok Sabha.”

A popular face among the city’s educated class, professionals from teaching, medical and banking sector, Dr Gandhi’s gatherings are getting bigger. “Unlike my predecessors, I am here to serve the public, not handpicked individuals,” he assures.

In 2014, Dr Gandhi had contested as an AAP candidate and had defeated Congress stalwart Preneet Kaur by 20,942 votes. Dr Gandhi, who was later suspended by the AAP for anti-party activities, had contested the 2019 General Election as a candidate of his newly floated political outfit — the Nava Punjab Party. However, Preneet Kaur wrested the seat by defeating him.

All pillars of Indian Democracy in danger

All pillars of the Indian democracy are in danger and have been run over by the BJP. The Congress is the only alternative. — Dharamvira Gandhi, Congress candidate, Patiala LS seat

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