When I Went Campaigning During Elections

( This picture belongs to toonpool.com)

I and my husband were watching an election campaign procession accompanied by the local folk music go past our apartment. The leader in dazzling white stiffly starched khadi kurta pyjama with a bright party scarf around his neck walked from house to house with folded hands. I could not hear what he was saying and that is when a crazy thought struck me. I wanted to be a part of that procession and listen to what that guy was saying, know who the guys who so passionately shout the slogans are and what the party is doing to get votes.

Step 1: tell my husband. Step 2…there is no Step 2. It is arranged. “Be prepared for some uncomfortable stares, and be careful,” was what I was told.

I got to sit in the back seat of a car that is part of a similar procession along with the lady who was campaigning. I met her before, so it was quite easy to strike a conversation. The people shouting slogans are a part of…ummm…an equivalent of an event management group that gets paid and also expects favors if the party wins. Almost all of them are unemployed and get a kick out of a rare opportunity of being perceived as important people.

The plan: go from door to door, talk about the problems that the household faces and promise to fix them if they vote for the party, and also write down the complaint in front of them so they know that the party is taking it seriously. Avoid the educated families as they ask too many questions, and anyway, we can’t rely on their promise of support. This is what the…ummm…event manager told the group. I was introduced as the prospective MLA's friend so I was considered the ‘insider’ so I was the part of the core group who were getting updated on a lot of things.

The problems that people spoke about were also quite amusing. There seemed to be 3 categories of issues that people stuck with. 1) I don’t trust you because others before you never solved any of our problems. Examples: Pot holes on the road in front of their house, the transformer that needs to be moved as it is too close to the homes. 2) If you are so sincere, prove that you can solve our problems. Examples: My daughter needs to get married next week and I don’t have money, I need money to pay my son’s exam fee. 3) I will help you by voting for you if you help me. Examples: I want to construct another floor but the municipality is not allowing me to do it without paying a registration fee. Can you help? (=I want to construct the floor illegally. Help me), I need an extra tap connection. I am willing to pay you (=illegal water connection). What was going on here was that both the politician and the people were vying with each other about who had lower morals. Reminds me of a friend who once told me, “The country gets a government it deserves”.

All the problems are religiously noted in the book, and all promises duly made. It was finally time for me to go home and we stepped out of the car decked up with party memorabilia. The leader of the procession got into her car and headed home, while I waited for my husband to pick me up. As it was hot, I sat in the car and waited. Just when it was time for me to get down and get into my car, I noticed that the book with the notes was ‘forgotten’. I picked it up. That was my prize for staying put till the end. Until then, I have only heard that the politicians forget their promises but now, I know they do. I have evidence to prove it :-)