Rajnath Singh’s 94-year-old milkman pal casts vote in Mumbai

Mumbai, May 20 (IANS) Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s grand old friend, Mithai Lal Singh — a sprightly, 94-year ‘young’ milkman who has been voting in almost all general elections since 1952 — proudly exercised his franchise at a polling station here on Monday for the ongoing Lok Sabha 2024.

An excited Mithai Lal Singh was brought in a car to the familiar 110-year-old Savla School in Matunga – which is now known Shishuvan School – and then gently wheeled by his doting family members to a polling booth where he was helped to cast his vote.

“He has been voting at this very same polling centre from the age of 22 – or the past 72 years – religiously in almost every Lok Sabha elections,” his beaming son C.K. Singh told IANS after the voting.

Hailing from Varanasi, Mithai Lal — a milk vendor who ran his bustling shop near the Matunga railway station — even today remembers seeing the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi getting off a train there, and mingling with the masses thronging around.

He also has clear memories of his long association with the Congress, how he had closely worked and interacted with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, especially after the Congress debacle in the 1977 elections held post-Emergency.

“Indiraji held my father in great esteem, and used to address him by his first name (‘Mithai Lalji’), and listened carefully to his critical analysis of the Mumbai-Maharashtra political situation of the day, as he was a respected and dedicated grassroots worker, in tune with the pulse of the people,” said C.K. Singh.

However, after getting disillusioned with the Congress, Mithai Lal, then 80, withdrew and virtually quit active politics, and in Uttar Pradesh came closer to his friend, Rajnath Singh (of Mirzapur in Varanasi district), particularly when the latter became the BJP president twice.

In 2014, Rajnath Singh, 72, requested the senior ‘Banarasi Babu’ Mithai Lal to help the BJP as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then contesting from the Varanasi LS seat, said C.K. Singh.

Mithai Lal changed allegiance to the BJP at that ripe old age while Narendra Modi emerged as the Varanasi LS winner and went on to become the Prime Minister of India in 2014 and again in 2019, and now aiming for a hat-trick in the 2024 elections.

Running a thriving family business of dairy and milk in Mumbai, Mithai Lal is the founder of the much-celebrated and awarded Pratap Cooperative Bank Ltd. (PCBL), the Matunga Arya Samaj, and was the President of All India Arya Pratinidhi Sabha.

Now, Mithai Lal’s gen-next in the form of son C.K. Singh and his grand-children are carrying forward the family dairy business and the PCBL legacy to new heights.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected] )

–IANS

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