Tipaniya is the most renowned modern day Kabir singer. Over the last four decades, not only has he kept alive the 600-year-old tradition of singing Kabir to the masses, he has also built a fan base of Malwi lok sangeet in the West. In the course of which he has won many awards, including Sangeet Natak Academy award and the Padma Shri. Now at 65, he is fighting for a seat in the Lok Sabha.
Congress’ move of fielding Tipaniya in from a seat that is considered to be an RSS stronghold is quite interesting. In the SC reserved Lok Sabha seat, both Congress and BJP have fielded candidates from the numerically dominant ‘Balai’ community. But in fielding Tipaniya, Congress scores over BJP in two ways. First, BJP’s candidate, former civil court judge Mahendra Singh Solanki, pales in popularity to Tipaniya. Second, a popular figure like Tipaniya will help Congress in exploiting an anti-BJP sentiment in the SC community, especially the ‘Balais’, to its advantage. Dewas Lok Sabha has eight assembly constituencies, all of which the BJP had won in ‘13 polls. In the ‘18 polls Congress was able capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor and win half of those seats.
An hour-and-a-half later we are sitting at his ashram in Lunyakheda. A trunk full of old documents is brought out and his whole family is running around looking for papers that nobody remembers whereabouts of.