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37 years on, his father's cornea gets this eye surgeon an AAP ticket

Sunday, 6 April 2014 - 2:30am IST | Place: Amritsar | Agency: DNA

He is the man who sees in this city of the Golden Temple the route to the Lok Sabha. The way Dr Daljeet Singh describes himself is almost as if the people of Amritsar see in him their saviour and saint together.
He tells dna the story of how he landed the Aam Aadmi Party ticket, and it's a fairy tale that he can narrate to his grandchildren.

Daljeet Singh thanks his father for the ticket. One day, just a week before he got the call from AAP to be the candidate from Amritsar, he had a visitor. "His name is Charanjit Singh. Around 37 years ago I had operated on him and gifted him my dead father's cornea. When I got the call from him, I thought it was about his eye, because corneas deteriorate over time.

"But I was surprised when he told me he wanted to pay me back for the cornea, which is even now going strong, with a ticket for the Lok Sabha. He asked me, 'Shall I do it?', and I said, 'Bana Do ji'. A week later I got the call from Delhi and here I am."

Then came the summons. "I was told to get to Jalandhar by 5.30pm. It was 1pm when I got the call. I took off immediately, but couldn't meet the 5.30 deadline. It didn't matter, however. There was a committee, which asked me just two questions, One, if I had any criminal record. Two, if I was communal. I said no to both, and then there it was, I was made the AAP candidate from Amritsar."

Besides his father and his father's cornea, this eye surgeon, who has operated upon top political leaders including Haryana strongman Devi Lal, also thanks Guru Nanak for the sudden turn his life has taken.
"I'm 80 and this happens to me. Can you imagine?" he asks, and you can hear the awe in his voice. "Today, I am all over Amritsar, and people remember me as the one who gave vision to someone or the other. I have countless volunteers, who are campaigning for me. I've stopped going to the hospital. My sons are taking care of things there."
 

How are things on the funds-front?

The good doctor laughs, and says: "Oh, these days I'm picking the pockets of my relatives. The other day my brother's son-in-law strayed in and I told him I was short of funds and he got Rs 25,000 straight out of the ATM and into my hands. Tonight, I am getting in touch with my friends who were my patients and are now on international mailing list. They have promised to help. One of them has already done so. I operated on her eye years ago, and had not demanded even a penny for it as it was an accident case. Today, she says this is the fee for that operation."

Dr Daljeet Singh says he will definitely win. "I will score big and win, have no doubt about that. I've a silent majority supporting me. Thousands of 'aam aadmi' know me and my work. They want to pay back. I am walking for long hours these days reaching out to people. I will win," he tells dna.

"I am enjoying it. Walking is helping me in two ways—it keeps me physically fit, all that handshaking and hugging; and two: for the first time I am looking at life in a different way, seeing how people live; they lead such miserable lives. It's sad."

The eye surgeon says he has been born again, with a new set of goals. It's just a matter of walking that extra mile.


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