Patna: Ninety-three and unstoppable. Age is just a number, goes the cliche; meet Ram Sundar Das and you know why. He is possibly the oldest candidate in the fray in this general election but the nonagenarian shows no sign of exhaustion from the hectic campaigning all through the hot day. He defies every sign of his age as he tries to reach out to every voter in Hajipur constituency.
Ram Sundar Das, the sitting MP and JD(U) candidate, is up against Ram Vilas Paswan, someone more than two decades his junior, but with indefatigable energy to fall back upon he is giving the latter the run for his money. There was a growing demand from the party’s rank and file to replace him with a younger face but the JD(U) leadership preferred to bet on the old “war horse” once again. He had defeated Paswan in 2009, and he believes he can do it again.
Das traverses long distances in the course of campaigning and does not mind stepping out of his car to make long treks into inaccessible villages in his constituency. Many of these villages are in the riverine belt - the vast sandy beds of the Ganga - and totally cut off from towns and without proper roads. The rising summer heat and gusts of hot wind test his endurance, but he handles these with stoic indifference.
To the question on what keeps him fit even at this age, he says, “I always keep myself busy. I have never allowed my body to rest.” Elaborating further, he says that his surname is Das, which in Hindi means “servant”. "I keep myself busy serving the masses. This is what I have been doing all my life," he adds. Das’s day begins early. He leaves bed at 5 am sharp and starts off for campaigning by 7 am after a light breakfast, which includes bread, a glass of milk and green vegetables.
Das began his political career 69 years ago, in the pre-Independence days, and has held many important positions. This includes the chief ministership of Bihar for a little over ten months. He comes from socialist background and is the founder of Harijan Gandhi Gramin School.
The general voters are impressed with his jest for power, however, they are not quite impressed with his performance as MP. “He never came back to his constituency to see whether we are dead or alive since winning the polls last time (in 2009) and the people are ready to serve him a hard lesson this time,” complains a resident of Jarua market in Hajipur. Many others echo him. Das denies the charge vehemently, saying he has done a lot for the constituency in terms of development work.
The voters' verdict on him will be sealed on May 7, the next phase of polls in Bihar, but Das will continue to impress with his energy. One more election in 2019? Cannot rule that out yet.
Updated Date: May 02, 2014 19:59:15 IST