In a nondescript Haryana village, miles away from the buzzing streets of district headquarter Rohtak, a centenarian laments the election process over the years has become a tool to grab power in disguise of democracy. Holding his voter-ID card to his chest, sitting on a jute cot spread in the open, Duli Chand is disappointed with the division in society, which, he warns, is a dangerous precedent for the future generation to fall back on.
People should rise above Jat and non-Jat politics and vote in national interest, he says. “All this is being done by the BJP government. But the result will be very unfortunate.”
Harking onto his experience, he said former Haryana chief minister Chaudhary Devi Lal had once adopted this “divide and rule policy” and it took decades to bring Jat and non-Jats together.
“Both are inseparable from the Haryanvi culture. BJP is trying to repeat history but voters should sense this conspiracy and vote in national interest,” he told PTI-Bhasha.
“Pandit Ji (Jawaharlal Nehru) and Mahatma Gandhi fought for Azadi (Independence). Now 100 political parties are in the fray but only for power. Nobody cares for the country. They (the politicians) come only once in five years,” he said.
About 5 km inside Sampla Tehsil, Gandhra is a small village with a population of 6,197 people. Duli Chand is the oldest voter among the 22 villages of the tehsil.
Even at this juncture of life, he is filled with humour, loves “ghee shakkar” and a glass full of malaidar (creamy) milk. He is fond of cricket and watches Virat Kohli play.
He has a very good memory but faces difficulty in listening to cricket commentaries because of his age-related hearing problems.
The centenarian has some complaints about election authorities, who he says didn’t pay any heed to his grievances.
Pointing towards his voter-ID card, he says, “This shows my age as 99 years and 4 months”, then adds with a smile, “My age is more than what appears here.”
Asked about his favourite political party, Duli Chand, who comes from the Brahmin community, says, “From 1952 to till date, I have voted for Congress and this time too my vote will go to the same party.”
“Indira Gandhi was the real leader. She was a taskmaster, good administrator. A leader with guts. She had taken strict action against terrorists hiding in the Golden Temple,” he says.
In his opinion, Operation Blue Star in Punjab was the right step.
What about the Balakot air strike inside Pakistan, which happened 35 years later. “Who believes Modi’s claim!” Duli Chand says bluntly.
Polling will take place on all 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana on May 12.
Congress’s two-time MP Dipendra Hooda and Arvind Sharma of BJP are in a close fight for Rohtak seat.