Bhopal: From Kabir to Congress, Tipaniya takes on a new art

Prahlad Singh Tipanya, 65, is the first and the only folk artiste to be fielded in Lok Sabha election by a mainstream political party in the state. For Tipanya who sings Kabir songs in Malwi folk style, his nomination was a surprise. “No, I had nothing to do with politics and I did not lobby for ticket,” said Tipanya, who has been cherry picked by Congress as its candidate from Dewas-Shajapur parliamentary constituency. Normally, glamour is what the political parties look for while selecting non-politicians as their candidates.

No wonder, film stars are favourites for their vote-catching potential. It is in this context that the grand old party’s decision to field Tipanya has come as a surprise. Though Tipanya is an accomplished artiste, he lacks the glamourous aura of heroes and heroines of silver screen. “I have been spreading love and harmony through my singing and I will do the same through politics,” he told Free Press over phone. Born in a village in Ujjain district, Tipanya started singing Kabir’s bhajans when he was 24. Three decades later, he is a household name in Malwa region and beyond. He has contributed immensely to resurgence of Kabir’s oral traditions and music in Malwa.

Tipanya has been performing at local, state, national and international levels. He has performed for All India Radio in Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Patna, Lucknow and Kanpur. He has also been a frequent artist on Doordarshan. In 2003, his troupe performed in London and then toured the US for over two months. In 2005, he went to Pakistan, and in 2009 there was another two-month tour of Canada and the US.

Awards conferred on him include Malwa Ratna, Madhya Pradesh government’s Shikhar Samman, Sangeet Natak Academy award and Padma Shri. He says no one in his family has a political background though “we all believe in ideology Congress represents.” When asked whether he had met AICC president Rahul Gandhi, Tipanya said he met him as an artiste. “Why only Rahul Gandhi, I have been meeting politicians of all parties during my performances,” he said.

Tipanya said he would use his singing skills to draw voters during campaigning. To a question on what he would do for the welfare of artistes if he makes it to Lok Sabha, he said he would work for well-being of everyone.” Why only artistes, all the people are dear to me,” he said. “Music transcends boundaries of religion, caste, creed and even nations,” he said in response to a question about demand to ban Pakistani artistes in India. There is little doubt that Tipanya is extremely popular in Malwa region as a singer. But whether that would translate into votes remains to be seen.

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