Jodhpur, Nov 8 (PTI) “If a child fails, will you stop sending him to school,” asks Prem Singh, disappointed that the Aam Aadmi Party didn’t give him the ticket in the Rajasthan Assembly polls this time. Just because he lost the last time.
Singh, 68, is a compulsive contestant – and a constant loser from Jodhpur’s Luni constituency.
In the 2008 elections, he fought on behalf of little-known Jago Party and got 446 votes. Fighting on an Akhil Bharatiya Aam Jan Party ticket, he polled 440 in 2013. The AAP nominated him 2018, and he got them 898 votes.
Despite that defeat, Singh says he continued to campaign for Arvind Kejriwal’s party over the past five years, going around the constituency on his motorcycle or a bicycle, carrying his bedding along. He took his baths at petrol pumps.
Singh, who has also lost elections for the sarpanch’s post earlier, waited till the last day for nominations.
"I was assured by the party high command about getting the ticket again. But the party didn't field any candidates except from Jodhpur City,” he says. The AAP is in the fray only in this one constituency, out of the nine in Jodhpur.
“I am disappointed now as I had wanted to contest the elections again and had worked hard for the party this time," he adds. Singh says he will continue as an AAP worker and work on his connect with the people, despite the disappointment.
He offers the school analogy when asked why he continues “campaigning” despite repeated failures. "Koi baccha fail ho jaye to usse school nahin bhejegein kya?” “Luni assembly is a general category seat and all major parties are fielding OBCs candidates. It is my right to contest the election," Singh, who makes his living out of farming and is not from the Other Backward Classes.
Asked why he isn’t contesting as an independent at least, Singh says, "I campaigned for the ‘broom’ (the AAP symbol) the entire five years on a bicycle. It is difficult to convince people in villages in a short span of time to vote for some other symbol.” He may not win elections, but his “oratory” is acknowledged by others.
"Prem Singh ji is a dedicated worker. Everyone has seen him campaigning in his constituency. I have seen him pedalling his bicycle in every village of Luni constituency and he is a well-known face. He could have got the ticket, but the party didn't field any candidate this time," says Pankaj Waghela, a party worker in Jodhpur.
"He is admired by all workers. He is a crowd-puller because of his oratorical skills, and people know him by his face and the bicycle," Prashant, another AAP activist, says.
Singh says he reads general knowledge books for an hour or two every day, which helps improve his English. He is the first person in his family to contest an election.
He owns 22 acres of land, and has three sons who are daily-wage workers.
The compulsive contestant shows his torn ‘jootis’ (shoes) and trousers, making a point about the campaigning he has been doing for the party which didn’t give him the ticket. PTI ANB ASH ASH