The poet who would take on Rahul Gandhi
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Kumar Vishwas believes poets are born, not made, but could have ended up as an engineer like his childhood friend Manish Sisodia. Vishwas did go to an engineering college but dropped out within months, having made up his mind after reading Mati Kahe Kumhar Su by Osho (Acharya Rajneesh), which said one should not go against the voice of one's soul.
Poetry not only proved his true calling but also brought him an appeal wide enough for the Aam Aadmi Party to look at him as its candidate to take on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. "His name is almost final, though it has to be formally approved by our political affairs committee," says AAP national spokesperson Sanjay Singh. Vishwas and Rahul are both headed for Amethi next week.
Apart from his verses, Vishwas, 44, thrives on his oratory skills and style of direct address to the youth. He is also known for wit, which of late has been showing at his political potshots, too: "Salman Khurshid says Rahul Gandhi is Sachin Tendulkar of Congress; I say yes, Sachin doesn't know politics either." This came between poems at a Kavi Sammelan in Udaipur.
At home in Pilkhuwa, Ghaziabad, his father had wanted Vishwas, youngest of five, to study engineering. His early grooming was similar to Sisodia's. He recalls they were born in the same town, became friends at class I and shifted schools together at VI. But Vishwas dropped out of engineering college in Ahmedabad while Sisodia, now Delhi's education and PWD minister, completed his course in Jammu.
It was ironically his father, a Hindi professor, whose legacy shaped Vishwas's decision on what he would rather be. He spent his early years reading Hindi, Urdu and English literature and poetry. Once he decided to "listen to his soul", he joined SSV Degree College in Hapur but was disappointed that he couldn't study literature in the three languages simultaneously, the college allowing only two. He chose history instead and topped the subject in 1991. He topped again in his postgraduate course, this time in Hindi literature, setting a "still standing record of 76 per cent" for CCS University, Meerut (he studied in MMH College, Ghaziabad). In 1993, Kumar finished among the top five in the UGC's National Eligibility Test and went on to work in Rajasthan until 2000. Later, he joined Lala Lajpat Rai College in Ghaziabad ; he is now on leave without pay.