British like UK Kannadiga Mayor's accent

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British like UK Kannadiga Mayor's accent

Inspiring: Neeraj Patil

Dr Neeraj Patil, the first Kannadiga to become the Mayor of Lambeth in London, was in the City recently. On his first visit to India after becoming the mayor, Patil spoke to Metrolife on various issues. Patil describes himself as a British Indian who does not differentiate between India and England.

“India is my biological mother and the United Kingdom is my adopted mother. So, how can I select one? I love both,” he says while adding that he has no plans to return to India.

Hailing from a small village called Kamlapur in Gulbarga district, the 43-year-old doctor-cum-politician has been serving the Labour Party since 1994. This proud son of Karnataka won the confidence of the people of the United Kingdom twice and was unanimously elected the Mayor of Lambeth.

He regards Labour Party politician Nye Bevan as his idol. “Politics was my passion since childhood but my parents were against it. I didn’t have time to think about politics when I was here. When I went to London for higher studies, my wish emerged slowly. I started preparing to kickstart a career in politics. I had not prepared so much to face my medical exams,” he laughs.

What was the winning factor? “My honesty and my Indian accent,” he replies. “People like my accent. If I change my speaking style, I would definitely lose the elections,” he beams. He discloses that there are only five to six Kannadiga families in his constituency.
He admits that politicians are hated by people all over the world, be it in Bangalore or London. “But I love being a politician and my profession as a doctor has helped me in this regard. Winning elections is all about the proper usage of the 3Ms — message, messenger and the medium. Who communicates what and in which medium matters a lot while winning elections,” he avers and adds that scandals and corruption are prevalent in England too.

He feels tweeting is a dangerous thing as far as politics is concerned. “I stopped tweeting as the media was very keen to make an issue out of it. I have noticed that 90 per cent of my followers are newspapers. One of my friends lost his political career because of tweeting,” he says.

Patil has been away from India for nearly two decades. So what does he miss the most? “Coffee,” the answer comes  quick. “I haven’t tasted such flavoursome coffee anywhere in the world. Whenever I come to India, the first thing I do is to rush to the nearest Udupi hotel and have a sip of filtered coffee along with idli and vada,” he gushes.

This ‘Karnataka Rajyothsava’ and ‘Aryabhatta Award’ winner kept on quoting the vachanas of Basavanna, Sarvajna and shlokas from Bhagavad Gita.

Ask him how he memorises them and he laughs, “I read a lot and have a vast collection of books at home. Whenever I visit a library, my wife drags me out of it as I spend a lot of money as well as time on books,” he beams.

How does he spend his free time? “Reading books and sweating in the gym. I exercise regularly to keep myself fit and healthy,” he reveals.

“My wife is eagerly awaiting my retirement. She will be happy when I resign from my post,” he says adding that he is seriously thinking about retiring now that he has spent 12 years in politics.

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