Today is the Goa Panchayat (village bodies) Elections in which I was to be a candidate requesting valuable votes with folded hands. I narrowly escaped.
Wondering what went wrong with this fellow who appeared to be sane till recently?
Some time back I was talking with a likeminded friend of mine about the social and moral degradation that we are witnessing around us. After deliberating over the matter over a length of time, we concluded that 1. Our elected representatives or whom we call politicians in general , play a big role in the matter. 2. Unless we have elected representatives of good character, there will be no improvement in the situation 3. ‘Good’ people should not hesitate to enter politics 4. We the concerned citizens should not simply talk about it for ‘time pass’ but should act. And 5. We need to act from inside the system.
Considering the last three points seriously, especially the third (!) we decided to contest elections and thereby try our best to improve things.
We realized that we should have come to this conclusion and begun in right earnest a few decades earlier if we ever hoped to contest an assembly or parliamentary election but thought that it is not late to have a go at the Municipal or Panchayat elections and make a beginning.
My friend resides in the municipal area where the elections are due only after another four years and so retained the right to keep talking and commenting for the next four years without presently getting into any action. I reside in the Panchayat area and the Panchayat elections were announced soon after our decision. Now, I had to prove that I was serious and so, had to contest in the elections.
I mentally went over the situation that I had put myself into and planned my approach. I did have a ‘decent’ image, I knew many of the voters who incidentally were my patients, I had done some ‘social work’ (we had a street light in our street and the road had been ‘hot mixed’ because of my efforts) and if I could dangle some innovative carrots like ‘right to recall’ and ‘openness’ in panchayat transactions (new flavours) and if my voters did not remember the pain that they had suffered at my hands as my patients ( banking on public memory which is said to be short) I should at least be getting my deposit back.
Deciding to contest an election is one thing and actually doing so is another. As the elections were announced and nominations were invited I was getting jittery. Till date (by hook or crook) I had managed to retain a good image. People really thought that I was ‘respectable’ and ‘decent’. Should I contest a muddy election and soil that image? Won’t I be painted with all the dirty hues of a ‘politician’? In case I win I can dance even with the dirty paint on. What if lose my deposit? Can I walk straight again? What would people say? Forget about people, what would my wife say? Rather, add to all her sayings? Won’t I be handing her a Bofors to fire at me in future?
It was time to act and I could not afford these negative feelings. So I informed my wife about my decision and after getting a sarcastic “so, when are you taking oath as PM ?” I started on my way to the office of the returning officer. I had never contested an election before and this first visit was to be a reconnoitering visit to gather information.
On the way I entered the temple to collect the blessings of god almighty like a true politician and had to stand aside (unlike a true politician) to make way for a group of ladies coming out of the temple. One of the ladies whom I recognized as my neighbour’s wife hailed me with much more cordiality than usual. “Hello doctor, nice to see you here itself. We were about to come to your place. You must have heard about the Panchayat elections. This time our ward is reserved for ladies and I am contesting. I came to offer my prayers before starting canvassing. I will visit your house but am requesting you to please support me”. She handed me a card and they left.
With the immense relief that I experienced, I was unable to put my foot forward. I sat down on the steps of
the temple to recover. I had heard that our gods do not desert the devout but was not aware that sometimes they acted even before a seeker entered the temple. My belief in gods trebled and I returned home with a light heart after offering an extra prayer for the benefit of whoever decided to reserve our ward for ladies and save me.