In March 2009 Manvendra Singh, the BJP’s candidate for the Barmer Lok Sabha constituency, launched his election campaign to retain the seat that he had won with a record margin in 2004 and lovingly nurtured as a member of Parliament for five years.
Over two months, he criss-crossed his sprawling constituency straddling Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, covering 34,000 kilometres in temperatures often nearing 50°C, to meet his constituents. They included herders and headmen; communities of traditional balladeers and craftsmen; youth groups and hoary old political fixers; Muslim pirs, Jain munis and Hindu priests.
Campaign Diary, a daily record of those gruelling weeks of canvassing voters, is a compelling portrait of democracy in action in one corner of India, and shows the impact of local, national and international issues and policies at the grass-roots level. Vividly bringing to life the heat and dust, the intrigues and infighting, the moving personal encounters and comic episodes that make up the Great Indian Election Circus, Campaign Diary is also an honest and insightful account of the rewards—and the heartbreak—of a life in politics.
About the Author
Born in Jodhpur, Manvendra Singh was educated at Mayo College, Ajmer; Hampshire College in Amherst, USA; and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He represented Barmer in the 14th Lok Sabha, where he was a member of the Standing Committee on Defence. Before entering politics, he worked as a journalist at the Statesman and the Indian Express, with a specialization in defence and national security affairs. He is also an avid supporter of the Liverpool Football Club. Manvendra Singh is married to Chitra and they have two children—Hamir and Harshini.