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Expert in Urdu poetry, Punjab finance minister leaves a mark in Bihar’s Muslim seats 

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who spent 10 days campaigning in Bihar, is not just an expert in the Urdu poetry but has also read the Quran.  

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Chandigarh: Impressed by his mastery over Urdu, the Bihar Congress had got the Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal to campaign for it, especially in the Muslim-dominated areas of the state. 

Back in Punjab after a 10-day hectic round of campaigning in over a dozen constituencies of Seemanchal (Eastern Bihar), Manpreet is confident change is in the air. “The writing is on the wall,” he told ThePrint Saturday. Polling for the last phase of elections ended today. Results will be out Tuesday. 

Known for his choice of Urdu couplets that interspersed his budget speeches, the five-time MLA is not just an expert in the Urdu poetry but has also read the Quran and is familiar with the Hadees and Sunnat. His knowledge of the Muslim culture and ethos was evident through his campaign. 

He generally began his speeches with “Bismillah Rahmani Rahim (in the name of Allah, the all merciful)”. 

“The invocation of Allah is almost similar to how we start a speech in Punjab with WaheGuru ji ka khalsa WaheGuru ji ki fateh,” he says. “It’s like making the beginning auspicious. What was interesting is that it always invoked a surprised delight from the crowd. I think they didn’t expect a Sardarji from Punjab to start speaking of things written in the Quran and the Hadees.” 

As if his invocation of Allah wasn’t enough, Manpreet made sure to recite Urdu poetry. 

“I only quoted Punjabi poets and only inquilabi (revolutionary) poetry. In political speeches one tries to use couplets that are otherwise known — like the aam faham sher, which people would relate to,” he explains. “And yet a single couplet or poem is equivalent to half an hour of speech. It engages the people and draws them into what you are saying.” 

One of the more commonly used couplets in his speeches was Iqbal’s: “Khuda ne aaj tak us qaum ki halat nahin badli, Na ho jisko khayal aap apni halat ke badalne ka.”

And another of Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Aye Khak Nashino Uth Baitho Woh Waqt Qareb Aa Pohcha Hai, Jab Takht Girae Jaein Ge Jab Taj Uchale Jaeinge, Ab Tut Girein Gi Zanjirein Ab Zindano Ki Kher Nahi, Jo Darya Jhom Ke Uthein Hein Tinkon Se Na Taale Jaein Ge.”

The Urdu campaign

Manpreet was accompanied by well-known Urdu poet Imran Pratapgarhi during his campaign. “Imran is hugely popular in that area and is a very good poet. He sings his poetry and is a crowd puller like no other,” says Manpreet.

While Imran drew the crowds and set the pace for the speeches Manpreet lent them an intellectual, serious colour. 

“Democracy is relatively new to India. If there was anybody who had a licence to speak up before that, it was the poet. They could do it even in the presence of royalty,” he says. “The art of public speaking has relied majorly on the poets and this has been true not only of India but also the Greek and Roman cultures.” 

“Whether I spoke in Urdu or in Hindi the one common factor that evoked strong emotional response from the public was that despite being one of the most fortunate states in the country in terms of land, its fertility, its people, their labour, they continued to live in abject poverty. This is because of their political leadership,” he says.

“When I told the crowds, kufr ka nizam chal jaata hai par zulm Ka nizam nahin chalta they knew what it meant,” he adds.


Also read: 2 days on, not a murmur within JD(U) urging Nitish to reconsider ‘retirement decision’


 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Iqbal and Faiz were both committed to the two nation theory, provided intellectual heft to the Pakistan movement and were Islamists to the core. Why not use his own poetry, if he is a poet as claimed?

    • No the vote bank votes on emotions. Poetry only raises your emotions or brings them into motion…
      WasSalam…

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