Kamal Uddin is not a magician nor does he have the Aladdin's lamp but he claims he can solve ALL problems under the sun if elected to the Parliament. "If you elect me, I will double the salaries of government employees, build homes for the homeless, give jobs to the jobless and provide livestock to women to help them eke out a living," Kamal Uddin told voters at a rally recently.
He is contesting as an Independent from western Assam's Barpeta which goes to polls on April 24 and up against sitting MP Ismail Hussain of the Congress, Sirajuddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front, Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the Asom Gana Parishad and Chandra Mohan Patowary of the BJP.
As the polls draw near, Kamal Uddin has stepped up his campaign. He does not move around in a fleet of vehicles but walks and sometimes, rides pillion. Quirky as he is, Kamal Uddin is banking heavily on his singing ability to woo voters. At every place that he visits, he tries to reach out to them by belting out popular numbers and performing exercises.
"He will often stand atop a vehicle to sing songs and deliver speeches. The vehicle, besides the sound system, is arranged by well-wishers. His speeches are mind-boggling in a sense that he claims he has the solution of every problem of voters," Bulbul, a voter, told dna.
Kamal Uddin, who was once a blacksmith, stays away from poster-campaigning as it entails money. He is, perhaps, the only candidate in the country who does not need money to campaign. So, his savings of Rs52,836 in the bank remains intact.
This is Kamal Uddin's maiden parliamentary election. But he is not new to the battle of ballots. He had contested assembly elections thrice but lost. On all three occasions, he had polled less than 500 votes.
In the 2011 Assam polls, he had pledged to construct a high rise boundary wall around the Sarukhetri assembly segment to tackle flood.
"He is a fun guy and so are his supporters and well-wishers. He does nothing except moving around marketplaces. People give him money, ranging from Rs10 to Rs500, for his sustenance. He saves a part of it to be able to pay the security deposit. People do all these for fun," Pranjal Kalita, another voter, said.
But not everyone is up there to make fun of him. "He is a serious politician. He wants to do something for the constituency but some people don't try to understand this," Amser Ali, Kamal Uddin's election agent, said adding "He is popular not just among voters but also among officials. It was at his request that the returning officer (RO) gave him the symbol of cup- saucer".
When Kamal Uddin had gone to file his nomination, he was not sure if he had the required amount for security deposit. So he requested the RO to pay up the extra money if needed. He never takes PSOs saying he is strong enough to protect himself. Kamal Uddin has vowed not to get married until he wins an election. So even at 66, he has no qualms about being a bachelor. "The previous MPs did nothing for the constituency. And given the response which I am getting, I am optimistic. Hopefully, May 16 will bring an end to my bachelorhood too," Kamal Uddin signed off.
Candidates – 15
Prominent candidates – Ismail Hussain of Congress, Sirajuddin Ajmal of All India United Democratic Front, Phani Bhusan Choudhury of Asom Gana Parishad and Chandra Mohan Patowary of BJP
Voters – 1,42,5210
Polling stations – 1,906