What’s in a (nick) name: Much and nothing says a Bhutto seeking homerun in Himachal polls

Time was when for everything that is wrong with our democracy, the foreign hand was blamed. Now a “foreign” hand is at play in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, but no one is complaining.

When Davinder Kumar, the Congress candidate from Kutlehar constituency in Una district, rose to address his rallies wearing a Himachali cap, people cheered and clapped, and there was a shouting of slogans: Bhutto-Bhutto; and Do Hazar Bai, Bhutto Bhai.

The 49-year-old explains his Pakistan connection: “I am a Rajput. Bhutto is my nickname. My maternal grandfather had given me this name when Benazir Bhutto’s father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed. Now everyone knows me by my surname.”

The Congress candidate tried his best to travel the length and breadth of the constituency before the campaigning came to a close on Thursday. “I wanted to touch every vote and every heart,” he says matter-of-factly.

While he wooed voters, his another international connection came to the fore: his Trump card. “Jab main MLA ban jaoonga, to main ek paisa bhi apani salary se nahin loonga (When I am elected as an MLA, I won’t take a single penny from my salary). I will spend my entire salary on poor girls’ wedding, old women and other welfare works.”

Former US president Donald Trump too used to donate his salary.

Kumar, who has studied up to Plus Two, is a contractor in the construction line and does not shy away from flaunting his wealth. “My monthly income is Rs 15 lakh. It is all white,” he says.

Pitted against the BJP’s Virender Kanwar, the Congress candidate knows how to play his cards right. “There was talk of my selling a stone crusher before the elections. In fact, I hadn’t sold any. Yeh mantriji (Virender Kanwar) ko khush rakhane ke liye tha (It was all meant to keep the minister happy).”

Keep happy or on tenterhooks? You have to hand it to Kumar — he is good at playing mind games as well.

An Indian politician by any other name would have smelt as sweet — or foul. What’s in a name, or in a surname? Even the bard would have approved of Bhutto as an Indian politician without the foreign hand.

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