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The poet who would take on Rahul Gandhi

Apart from verses, Vishwas, thrives on his oratory skills and style of direct address to the youth.

Lucknow |
January 8, 2014 4:22:50 pm
Kumar Vishwas Kumar Vishwas

Kumar Vishwas believes poets are born, not made, but could have ended up as an engineer like his childhood friend Manish Sisodia. Vishwas did go to an engineering college but dropped out within months, having made up his mind after reading Mati Kahe Kumhar Su by Osho (Acharya Rajneesh), which said one should not go against the voice of one’s soul.
Poetry not only proved his true calling but also brought him an appeal wide enough for the Aam Aadmi Party to look at him as its candidate to take on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. “His name is almost final, though it has to be formally approved by our political affairs committee,” says AAP national spokesperson Sanjay Singh. Vishwas and Rahul are both headed for Amethi next week.
Apart from his verses, Vishwas, 44, thrives on his oratory skills and style of direct address to the youth. He is also known for wit, which of late has been showing at his political potshots, too:  “Salman Khurshid says Rahul Gandhi is Sachin Tendulkar of Congress; I say yes, Sachin doesn’t know politics either.” This came between poems at a Kavi Sammelan in Udaipur.
At home in Pilkhuwa, Ghaziabad, his father had wanted Vishwas, youngest of five, to study engineering. His early grooming was similar to Sisodia’s. He recalls they were born in the same town, became friends at class I and shifted schools together at VI. But Vishwas dropped out of engineering college in Ahmedabad while Sisodia, now Delhi’s education and PWD minister, completed his course in Jammu.
It was ironically his father, a Hindi professor, whose legacy shaped Vishwas’s decision on what he would rather be. He spent his early years reading Hindi, Urdu and English literature and poetry. Once he decided to “listen to his soul”, he joined SSV Degree College in Hapur but was disappointed that he couldn’t study literature in the three languages simultaneously, the college allowing only two. He chose history instead and topped the subject in 1991. He topped again in his postgraduate course, this time in Hindi literature, setting a “still standing record of 76 per cent” for CCS University, Meerut (he studied in MMH College, Ghaziabad). In 1993, Kumar finished among the top five in the UGC’s National Eligibility Test and went on to work in Rajasthan until 2000. Later, he joined Lala Lajpat Rai College in Ghaziabad ; he is now on leave without pay.
He was performing at various events and it struck him, as well as other members of what would become AAP, that they could tap his appeal. “Due to my shows, I had managed a decent following among the youth,” says Vishwas, whose official Facebook page has 1.6 million likes and whose official Twitter account has over 138,000 followers.
“Arvind (Kejriwal) and Manish are good friends of mine; I have known Arvind since 2006,” he adds. “I kept contributing to their activism in my own little ways. I went to jail for protests on numerous issues such as the Salman Khurshid issue (alleged embezzlement from Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust) and coal blocks allocation. I had hoped to get back to performing at shows, and writing for movies, but while in prison, I decided to devote myself to the movement 100 per cent.”
His earlier poems were often romantic, such as Deewana Kehta Hai. His more recent ones include the patriotic, such as Tiranga, which is sung at the AAP’s protests and rallies.
“Good people were out of politics for a long time, so unsuitable people ended up taking those jobs,” he says. “But now politics has become a mainstream agenda, and things have started to change.”
Aruna Singh, the AAP’s Awadh zone convener, cites Vishwas’s popularity among the youth. “Rahul Gandhi has been the Congress’s youth face for long,” she says. “We wanted someone who could do something for the youth, a youth against their youth face.”
Vishwas’s wife of 16 years is a professor at a government college in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Their two daughters are in classes X and VI.

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