Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good morning Patna!

I am democracy and I appear at various times like the General elections, the state elections and election to local bodies. People remember me in various ways and one is through the patriotic songs. This time I have again appeared in this extremely hot weather. I am trying to observe how campaigns are organised for electing representatives to local bodies. Outlined here are my observations:

 With the temperatures soaring this summer, political fever is also on the rise. The reason is the Municipal elections in in Patna and in the state as a whole. The profile of the candidates is pretty interesting and so is their fervor in asking for votes. From one auto comes the tune; ऐ मेरे वतन के लोगों ज़रा आँख में भर लो पानी .....I can understand the eyes getting watery due to the heat and sweat but why should I fill my eyes with water for this candidate? What act of martyrdom has she/he committed for the locals? Yeah one may say the candidate has taken a huge risk at being corrupt. S/he has had to show to the public that a lane has been constructed or a hand pump fixed and has also tried to make money while getting these things done. That's one big act of martyrdom.

On another auto one finds the following:न जात पर , न पात पर , वोते दीजिये कप प्लेट छाप पर ....Nice slogan which rises above caste lines but when it comes to getting work done, the eligibility criteria is nothing but 'CASTE'. Poor cup and plate. They too must be thinking how innovative the candidate is. I am surprised at the symbols each candidate has been allotted: pressure cooker, ceiling fan etc. May be I will get to witness a pressure cooker scam, if I am lucky!

Interestingly there are wards reserved for women. Someone asks for vote in the name of her husband. People are exhorted to remember the good deeds of the candidate's husband and cast vote for her as payment for those good deeds. If someone is fighting for re-election, s/he asks the people for vote as a payment for the work they have done during their tenure in office.

The handbills are very interestingly designed. The candidate stares from the front cover with folded hands and demure look in the eyes - the look will certainly change once the candidate gets in office! Then comes the long list of the issues on which the candidate voiced his opinion or raised them for discussion and action when in office. After that comes the long list of work undertaken successfully...a hand pump at Location X, a lane made 'pucca' next to the house of so and so etc.

While these are the obvious things which happen in campaigning, there are other aspects like daily parties for the supporters which include nothing but non-veg. and drinks. This expenditure adds to the qualification of the candidate. Without good food one doesn't get followers and one needs followers to do a door-to-door campaigning. And to think there are so many unfed mouths on the streets!

Thankfully the elections are on May 17th 2012. Whether things change or do not change, at least noise pollution will be reduced considerably and I can sleep till 15th august 2012 for the patriotic songs to re-appear on the scene! It seems I will live long in this country!