Doing the legwork for Rajnath Singh in his constituency is his son, Pankaj Singh. As the father manages his responsibilities as BJP president, the son has taken over the campaign in Lucknow, a role that ranges from making fiery public speeches to interacting with party workers who approach him. These are apart from the responsibilities the key BJP youth face, 35, has as the party’s general secretary in Uttar Pradesh.
“My father will visit each ward after the polls but he cannot give much time to his constituency now, when he has national responsibilities. Therefore, I am meeting people on his behalf and campaigning for him,” he says.
He says the management of the constituency is still in the hands of seniors such as sitting MP Lalji Tandon. He has made sure his campaigns include Tandon; the two went together from door to door in Lucknow Cantonment seeking votes for Rajnath.
Pankaj, an MBA, has targeted professionals and students. He has addressed groups of Ayush doctors, teachers, lawyers and charted accountants. “The youth connect to him automatically,” says a young manager in his inner circle. He has also addressed people from the party’s minority front and a group of Sikhs.
A fitness freak, he has had to cut down on his workouts and his time with his family for the past couple of months. His schedule begins at 9 am when he meets people at his father’s official residence, accepting memorandums, agreeing to requests for a public address or just shaking hands. As they leave, he reminds them to be present at his father’s nomination on April 5. “Please be present. The more the supporters, the happier will I be.”
Whenever he gets a call from his wife Sushma Singh, an international shooter, “I’ll call you back,” is all she gets to hear. “He is a family man who loves spending time with the children and would go to drop our daughter to school every morning whenever he is in Delhi. These days, it’s difficult,” says Sushma, mother of two and sister of shooter Jaspal Rana.
In his public addresses, Pankaj makes it a point to mention Narendra Modi before asking for votes for his father. He looks at himself as an orator. His speeches range from charging neighbouring countries with terrorism to attacking ruling parties on inflation, corruption and law and order. “I have started picking up the nuances of politics but have a lot more to learn,” he says.
So where does he see himself 10 years ahead? Pankaj smiles. “I have refused a party ticket twice for assembly elections.” He says he is happy with the responsibilities the party has given him so far.