Utpal Borpujari

April 30, 2009

Hockey hero fighting tough battle in Sagar

By Utpal Borpujari in Sagar (MP)


Aslam Sher Khan, one of the heroes of India’s only World Cup Hockey win way back in 1975, is fighting another battle now, and this time he has his back to the wall.


As the Congress’ only Muslim candidate in Madhya Pradesh, Khan, a former full back in the Indian hockey team, is not only fighting a tough battle against BJP’s Bhupendra Singh but also the tag of being an “outsider” in Sagar constituency.


Khan, from adjacent constituency Bhopal, would have been an ideal candidate from there – a fact that even BJP people admit – but thanks to rampant factionalism and infighting, he finds himself in the unfamiliar political terrain of Sagar.


To make matters worse for him, Sagar of late has been a BJP bastion, with the party’s Virendra Kumar having recorded a crushing win over Congress’ Uttam Khatik in the 2004 elections.


Quite naturally, Khan is sweating it out. In a region where temperatures are soaring and a heat wave is on, he is not having an easy time having to travel to remote corners of the constituency addressing election meetings.


What has made it tougher for Khan is the fact that BJP is fully amplifying his “outsider” status, even lampooning the fact that unlike Singh, a local businessman, Khan is staying at a hotel “since he does not have a home here”.


“He will be gone after the 30th (April 30 is the polling day here), while I will always be here,” Singh says in his election meetings.


To make matters worse of Khan, even local Congress workers are unhappy that the party did not give ticket to a “local”.


Though nobody would say it on record, party workers admit that there had been demonstrations by sections among themselves against the decision to field Khan from here.


Khan, who was a Union Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi regime but had later became disgruntled to join NCP and then BJP before returning to Congress, however, is exuding confidence. “I will win,” he says, dismissing the “outsider” tag as being a “BJP propaganda”.


He wants to bring in a sporting spirit in politics too. “All sports persons have a positive bent of mind. They play the game with team spirit, and that is something which is most required in political parties too. Moreover, because of their acceptance within large sections of the society, they can play a very constructive role in society building,” he says.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 29-04-2009)




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