Sai will help me win, says 93-year-old political veteran (Election Special)
Ram Sundar Das, who at 93 is the oldest parliamentarian in the country, is also probably the oldest candidate in this Lok Sabha election. As he campaigns for hours in the scorching sun in his constituency despite his age and failing health, he says his belief in Shirdi Sai Baba will make him win against political heavyweight Ram Vilas Paswan and give him another chance to be a 'das' (servant) of the people.
"I simply trust people and Sai Baba to win the election again. I am a sevak, servant of the people," Das, known for his strict vegetarianism and spiritualism, told IANS.
The Janata Dal-United candidate and outgoing Lok Sabha member from Hajipur constituency, who is seeking re-election, is confident of defeating Lok Janshakti Party chief Paswan. Hajipur will vote May 7.
"I am a sevak of the people. As my name - Das - suggests, I have to serve. It is the people who are 'malik' (master)," he said.
Paswan recently claimed he would break his own Guinness World Record for winning a parliamentary election with the highest margin. Paswan's LJP joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party in February and is contesting seven of Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats.
Das, a former state chief minister, has an image of being an honest politician. "I have neither money power nor muscle power but my manpower will eclipse both power of my rivals," Das told IANS.
As per his election affidavit, he has assets worth Rs.30,48,748.
Das said his strength lies in Shirdi Sai Baba, whose picture he carries close to his heart.
"Even at this age, Sai Baba makes me walk and talk with people, provides opportunity to serve them. I am today what Sai Baba has made me," he told IANS.
Probably contesting his last election, Das is still careful of his clean dress - a cotton white kurta pyjama with a cap.
Das also wears on his fingers various rings gifted by people.
"All these help me serve the people with good health and positive thoughts," he stated.
It was this never-say die attitude that helped Das defeat Paswan in 2009 when he was at the ripe old age of 88. At 93, he now hopes that he would repeat the feat.
Das was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991 at the age of 70.
JD-U leaders close to him said he has twice undergone angioplasty and has been dependent on insulin for the past four years.
Though there has been resentment among some voters as Das was seldom seen in the constituency, party leaders said he was the No.1 lawmaker in terms of utilising funds for development.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 05-05-2014)
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