Lucknow: While a fierce battle for power is playing out between major political parties in the state of Uttar Pradesh which goes to polls next year, a different kind of competition is being fought quietly in the orchards of Haji Kalimullah between Narendra Modi and Akhilesh Yadav. The celebrated mango grower has named mango varieties after the Prime Minister of the country and the UP chief minister, setting the stage for a sweet battle of taste between the two varieties.
Kalimullah, a Padma Shri awardee is famous for growing scores of mango varieties and naming them after celebrities in the town of Malihabad, which is around 35 kms from Lucknow.
"I have to say the Akhilesh aam (mango) is far sweeter than the Modi aam, but the Modi aam's taste is more sublime," the 75-year-old Padma Shri winner told NDTV in an interview.
Some have accused Kalimullah of trying to cash in on the upcoming elections by naming his mangoes after political figures, but he begs to differ.
"If popularity was the objective, I would have named them after my sons. My intention is to reflect the beauty of the characters they are named after," he said.
Kalimullah, a Class VII drop out has earned recognition far and wide for his innovations and dignitaries from all over the country go to Lucknow to visit his orchards.
Last year, he made headlines for naming a variety after the Prime Minister, when asked what inspired him to do so, he said Modi’s gesture of inviting heads of SAARC member nations to his oath taking ceremony endeared the Prime Minister to him.
Kalimullah has earlier named his mango varieties after Aishwaryia Rai and Sachin Tendulkar, he christens different varieties after people who have excelled in their areas of work so that they are always remembered.
On how he develops the varieties, Kalimullah said unlike others who develop it through grafting process, he crosses flowers and sows their seeds as every seed is different from the other.
Nevertheless this is a very arduous process and the success rate is low but the ones that succeed are worth spending time and energy as they grow into rare samples, he had said....