Published On : Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

The Navratri khichadi!

20130723_200605Everyone knows that during Durga Puja that falls during Navratri, people of East India, mainly Bengalis relish a special Khichadi made with rice, dal and many vegetables. They look forward to it the whole year.

This Navratri, people of Maharashtra have been served a confusing, mind boggling political khichadi that is leading to many, workers and voters both – getting indigestion,

The Nagpur Today team was witness to one such scene on the first day of nominations being filed in Nagpur. The press was invited to a prominent Politician’s place ( we wont name him since this is happening everywhere!) to welcome two new entrants from opposition parties. One was an Ex Minister and the other a sitting MLA. Gathered at that place were many workers of the party too. I greeted one of the new entrants, since he comes from my hometown. Then I spotted some other people from my town there. “Have you come with Him?” I asked them.

“No, we’ve come with our Madam, who has been the Party Gramin President for five years. We want her to be our candidate” they replied.

“But dont you know, the sitting MLA who joined your party today has already been declared the official party candidate?” I asked, puzzled.

“How can they do that? We have been loyal to the party for so many years. Dont they care for our opinion?” They actually looked crest fallen and quite confused as they were called to enter the leader’s cabin.

Of course, the nature of this business of politics is such that everyone wants to be with the Winner or the party/ club that seems to act like the winner. So the BJP it is that is being flooded in a torrent of “new leaders”. But some lateral migration is happening in other parties too. After all, since two alliances split up just as the burner was getting hot, many more veggies joined the pot and the khichadi is in danger of turning into a stew, if you dont mind a cooking alegory .

Individuals who were denied tickets by their own parties and were making up their minds to contest as Independents have been wooed by their former Alliance partners. Even those who had no plans of contesting these elections have been roped in if they have the clout and the money power. How does a party find candidates at such short notice from constituencies that have not been with them for a long time ? And if they do not post candidates from as many places as possible, what was the point of the break-up? It is a matter of prestige too now for those State leaders whose inflexible attitudes led to the break in the first place.

So the situation is thus that in the six Nagpur Vidhan Sabha constituencies, the number of candidates from known National political parties is at least six. In some places like Nagpur South, the number is seven. In Katol, it is eight.
In this situation, not only is the Voter spoiled for chance and may suffer from publicity fatigue, the party worker is confused about who to canvass for? People at grass root levels operate differently from leaders sitting in Delhi and Mumbai. Personal relationships and ties matter more to them. How can they canvass against a person they have been with for so many years and canvass FOR a person they have campaigned against vigorously for years on end ? Not only them, their leaders who have pilloried these individuals and shred to bits from public pulpits will now have to sit next to them on the same dais and sing peons in their praise. How much more awkward can it get?

Even smaller outfits, single- leader- parties as we can call them are adding to the confusion by changing sides. For instance, Madam Sulekha Kumbhare who was with the Congress has suddenly pledged support for the BJP by stating openly that she is doing so because she, and some of her supporters, were not given tickets as promised.

When asked how his party could field candidates who he had castigated as corrupt, BJP Maharashtra President Mr. Devendra Phadnavis has reportedly replied to that “even Shri Ram had to invite Bibhishan – Ravan’s brother – on his side to defeat Ravan.”

The situation will get somewhat clarified – or more muddy? – when some candidates may withdraw their candidatures by October 2nd, which is the last day to do so. Such withdrawals may be strategic where former partners are “still in a clandestine relationship” despite the public divorce, or they may happen out of financial constraints and many other reasons. Some candidates actually declined from giving sound bytes to this writer till 2nd saying “who knows? Today I say something against one opponent and tommorow he may not be in the race at all?”