A 66-year old retired IAS officer, a native of Punjab, is fighting the May 16 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu on the BJP’s lotus symbol, in a rare instance of a north Indian testing electoral fortunes in the Dravidian heartland. Ujagar Singh, a native of Khiali, about 21 km from Barnala in Punjab, is a candidate of the Akila Indiya Makkal Kalvi Munnetra Kazhagam (AIMKMK), an ally of BJP, from Sozhinganallur constituency in the city outskirts.
A former IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre of 1977 batch, he has held various positions in the state government and retired as Special Commissioner, Government Data Centre here in 2010. Though he belongs to AIMKMK, he is contesting on the symbol of BJP in tune with the arrangement between the allies.
It is not quite usual to find a north Indian contesting election down south, especially in Tamil Nadu where political leaders often cry foul over “imposition of Sanskrit or Hindi” by parties holding the reins of power at the Centre.
Asked what prompted him to jump into Tamil Nadu politics though he happens to be from Punjab, Ujagar Singh says, “I was convinced about the welfare programmes of the party like free education. Moreover I was requested by AIMKMK chief Devanathan to fight the polls and I know him, he is a good leader.”
When IAS officials from other states mostly go back to their native places after retirement, what prompted him to stay back? He says, “Tamil people are very kind, nice and large hearted, they have no jealousy and no chauvinism like you find in some other places in our country.”
“Also, my decision to stay back is in fulfilment of my promise to late Chief Minister (AIADMK founder) M G Ramachandran, a great humanist who wanted officials like me to stay back post retirement,” he says, adding the idea was to continue to work for the welfare of the people.