India Diaspora
When a US billionaire also bows
Feb 11, 2007 - 12:08:20 PM

Chandigarh, Feb 11 - His profile reads something like this - a successful billionaire from Milwaukee in United States who rubs shoulders with President George W. Bush and other top leaders, owner of nearly 1,000 gas stations in the US, owner of swank cars including a Maybach. Despite this, Darshan Singh Dhaliwal has no airs as he quietly campaigns for his Indian millionaire brother and Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra for Punjab's Samana assembly seat.

Darshan, who employs nearly 5,000 people in the US in his roaring business empire, approaches common people in Samana, 40 km from Chandigarh, with folded hands, even bowing before many to seek votes for his brother. 'Democracy is a big leveller,' he points out.

It is the love for his roots that has brought him to Punjab to be part of the state's political and social life. His friends include Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal.

Rakhra claims that nearly 3,000 Indian origin youths from US, Canada, Australia, Britain and other countries were in Punjab campaigning for him.

For the record, Rakhra is officially the richest individual candidate in the fray for Punjab's assembly poll. His declared worth is nearly Rs.550 million though it could be much more. The brothers hail from Rakhra village near Patiala. Darshan moved to US in 1972 and did odd jobs there before getting into the gasoline business with a leased out gas station in 1979-80.

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