to top


It’s once in a while that you get to meet a politician, who makes you feel very comfortable, addresses you as “beta” and does not dust his arrogance on you. Well, maybe they don’t teach that to all the politicians but perhaps it’s taught in all royal families. That was my first question to Capt Amarinder Singh, the scion of the royal Patiala family, candidate for Chief Minister from Congress for the upcoming state elections, “how does a maharaja feel being in politics?”
While he answered very humbly to that, saying, that came in easy since his upbringing as a royal prince was all about discipline, inclusivity and not discriminatory.He never let the maharaja title overwhelm him as a person. He was sent to a boarding school when he was less than five years old so the “rajsi thaat” never really got on to him. We also had a brief chat about his NDA days and how royal family of Patiala never encouraged their little boy to use any other surname other ‘Singh’ because one of the foremost principles of Sikkhism is equality and adding a caste or a surname was not something the tenth guru manifested to Khalsa. That surely was impressive about a leader.
The meeting took me back to my student days in Patiala (2003-2006) a time in his life when he was chief minister of the state. While I had a chance to look at the beautiful baradari gardens and moti mahal as part of my architecture curriculum, I often wondered as a young girl how would it be to meet the maharaja himself. When I finally met him in flesh and blood, I was overwhelmed by his humility and poise. He conversed flawlessly in both English and Punjabi, without a slightest hesitation in answering any question asked.
Out of the thirty odd people, one third were women. The conversation was a lesson in chivalry for the men present as he exhibited the aphorism ‘ladies first’. It were the small issues that people wanted to talk about. No one really wanted to know about the SYL canal or the terrorist attacks but it was about what affected people and their everyday routines.
Something as small as the problem of stray cattle causing accidents or how women need to feel safe when they drive at night. I feel women are the real influencers and they are often misunderstood as someone who is easily influenced. which in turn made me suggest to the special guest, that he must have more meetings with female citizens of the state. Nodding his head in agreement, he drew my attention to the recent power of social media and video calls he has been engaged in. On the contrary I feel that virtual world can never replace the human experience and this comes from a dot com owner herself.
Having said that, I asked myself, how many times a girl like me would go to a political rally to hear any of the leaders? Never! Because in no good mind I would want to be felt by sleazy men while in my attempt to go to a political rally which in any case is nothing more than political bashing of the opponents. I would rather want to meet a leader in a safe informal environment. Where I get to know the real person and before he starts rattling the usual rhetoric of unemployment, taxes, regulations blah! blah!.  Statistics apart, having faith in ability of the man I am going to give charge of state to, is of supreme importance. I would want to know my leader for the person he is. How he articulates the voice of the people, whether his heart beats for the right cause and whether he has in him to fulfill the aspirations of the citizenry. I would want to meet the real leader and not the image that media and poll strategists create. My coffee with captain in an impromptu setting made me see him in a different light. Though he prefers coffee over tea which is not my choice of beverage yet in him, I saw a statesman.
In a country where groom hunting is an activity and something as small as shape of his nose can decide the girl’s matrimonial faith, how can we elect a leader without knowing him personally?
If I was to speak for young women in their 30s independent/working/homemakers, we want to meet our leaders, we are not the not the mob who can be loaded in trolleys and be taken to rallies, we are the aware and educated  who express everything we like or dislike on social media and other platforms. If a leader can make to our kitty party talks its definitely a bonus. We may not be a big vote bank but we are a more sustainable vote bank, we are the organic voters.
Summing it up, meeting Capt Amarinder Singh, a royal who has been an army officer and a former CM was an experience. People don’t vote for election manifestos, never met one person who has ever read any of those long over gloating agendas. People vote for people, people vote for faces.. A brand image is no longer what the leaders tell the people.It is what people tell each other about the leaders. So I wish Capt Amarinder Singh reaches out to more people and I thank him for the lovely rendezvous, especially for offering me a seat next to him, which was a matter of chance but it did give me my 15 seconds of fame among st my friends. Good luck Captain.