#RealChowkidar – ‘BJP's New Lollypop’

Mahender Singh, 72, is an ex-serviceman employed at a mid-size hotel in Gwalior. He believes the chowkidar slogan is a political lollypop. Having said that, he believes that Indian Air Force strikes inside Pakistan territory have turned the tide in favour of the BJP.

A few days back my grandson showed me a video clip on his phone. It showed people from all walks of society singing ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’, because they were inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling himself a chowkidar. Kuch jyada hi ho gaya (It was a bit over the top). Little do those hero-heroines in the video realise what it takes to be a security guard. Can anyone of them keep a watch for 12 hours every day, or work the whole night in rain and cold out in the open?

In the real world, outside political jumlebazi, people have little regard for a security guard. Have those men and women ever spoken to a guard politely? They merely expect us to open their car door and greet them with respect, without even bothering to return a smile. So there is little to get carried away by such videos; this is just advsertisement.

Like other governments, the Narendra Modi regime too has no great concern for people’s suffering. They work less but publicise big. I have faced tough times and training during my career in the Indian Army more than 35 years back. I am proud of the force and the way they have the welfare of its own people. That jazba (spirit) is missing in our political class.

But one thing has worked in favour of Narendra Modi – you can call it a stroke of luck if you want. Terrorists in Kashmir provided him an opportunity to prove his mettle to the country. After the Pulwama attack, the people were angry and Modi government sanctioned out brave Air Force to carry out strikes into Pakistan terror camps. This has had great effect on the voter’s mind. In our village and neighbouring areas, people says he is a strong leader and India needs him.

The large number of people who attended the last rites of CRPF jawans martyred in Kashmir is a point in case. The mahaul (atmosphere) of the nation wanted a counter attack on Pakistan and Modi delivered just that. You will see him return to power after 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But, let me tell you, little will change after that. Life for the common man will continue as ever. Sab aise hi chalegea.


#MyVote2019 – ‘Coalitions Help Democracy’

Maulana Fazlur Rehman Anzar Quazmi (55), Mosque Imam, Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh)   I have witnessed formation of several governments in New Delhi and in states. And I have come to the conclusion that a government with complete majority – be it Congress or Bhajpa – turns autocratic when it has an absolute majority. This is against the grain of jamhooriyat, democracy. It is always better to have a coalition government where the alliance partners keep working as checks and balances in the government and arrive at a broad consensus on policy issue, which is what democracy is all about. Neither Congress nor the BJP has done anything for the minorities and majority alike other than holding them out false fairyland. For decades, the Congress’ main slogan was `garibi hatao’. But the poor remain marginalised even today. Likely, BJP shouted `sabka saath sabka vikas’ from the rooftop in 2014, but this also remained a mirage’ the poor, down-trodden remain as neglected and as oppressed as they were four and half years ago. Political promises, slogans, speeches mean little to us now as they never materialise. Successive governments have done nothing for the upliftment of the oppressed class, religion no bar. I often wonder why the people cannot see through these false promises in all these years. Sixty years after Independence, we are yet to fall into their traps, year after every five years. Mister Modi talked about his humble background but does he realise that the biggest impact of demonetisation was on the poor and I personally experienced it. I have seen small businessmen running from pillar to post to bring their business on track when demonetization happened and later coupled with GST, many lost their livelihood. Who will compensate for their losses? Political parties draft manifestos that only talk about the poor and the down trodden these document remain where they are printed – on paper. Not even 10 per cent of the promises have ever been fulfilled. That is why I advocate a coalition government to rule New Delhi. That will purposely pursue a programme which has a wider appeal and leaves no section of society (call them their respective vote banks, if you like) behind I am not going to press NOTA ever, as I have full faith in electoral politics; my only hope is to find a benevolent and decisive leadership. For me, the Congress and the BJP and ek he thali ke chatte batte (two sides of the same coin).]]>

#MyVote2019 – ‘Modi Made False Promises’

Ashok Rathi, 55, Retired Army Officer, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh)   ‘Minimum government, maximum governance’ was an oft-repeated sentence by Narendra Modi while campaigning for Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Do you believe he has kept his promise? The other slogan which had caught the fancy of most forward-looking people in the country was ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas.’ Has that happened? I see no change at the ground level. In my opinion, the condition of the aam aadmi has remained the same, if not worsened, over the last five years. I feel disappointed by the current NDA government at the Centre because they had sold many a dream to the voters and had heightened their expectations. Nothing came out of these promises. Modi did generate a lot of hope among masses. And those dreams and hopes lie deserted today. Corruption has become a hallmark of our everyday lives; there no jobs in the market and the youth are feeling increasingly dejected by the day. When I go to press the button on voting machine, these things will weigh on my mind and others. They will pay the price for these unkept promises dearly. Another major fault of this government was that it doesn’t look before it takes a leap. Demonetisation is a prime example. It was announced and executed in such haste and without proper preparation, that till date even government managers have not been able to make any sense of it. And I feel it is the poor people who suffered the most due to demonetisation, though the middle class suffered a lot as well. However, for people who live a hand-to-mouth existence, even a day without work (which was spent in standing in line for their hard-earned money) means going without food. And we all know the whole thing took more than a month to settle. Which means poor people lost many working days. And now the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) says nearly 99% of the scrapped notes have come back into the system. So where’s the black money now? Vanished into thin air? It was an empty exercise after all. Also, the government had said that it would crush terrorism, Naxalism, fake currency etc., but all that turned out to be overestimated as well. WE are in a strange position. The farmers are not getting proper prices for their yield and common man says prices of commodities are rising. Where are the regulators? Also, as a retired person, I am not happy with the rise in petrol prices. The government is in a position to reduce the prices and should seriously think about it. In 2019 we need a government with a vision, one that is humble enough to learn from the past and courageous enough to take decisions about the future with confidence. We need a government that understands agriculture and empathises with farmers, for agriculture is the backbone of our economy after all. Rahul Gandhi needs to be a bit more polished before he can be taken seriously by the people. (The narrator did not wish to share his photograph. LokMarg has used a representational image.)]]>

‘We Can Survive GST, Not Hate Politics’

Khurram Mirza, 32-year-old Entrepreneur, Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh) The rise in right-wing nationalism is a phenomenon not only restricted to India, but is finding resonance worldwide. In our country, this started taking an aggressive form since May 2014, when (Narendra) Modi government came to power. I am a Muslim but earlier I didn’t need to prove my Indian-ness constantly. However, since 2014, the main issues related to good governance like health, education and development have been pushed to the background while identity politics has been brought to the forefront. You only have to browse through social media platform to witness this rising phenomenon. Now, our religious identity has taken over our national identity. A lot of people find it easy to openly generalise/stereotype an entire community based on the act of an individual from the community.  Aren’t there black sheep in every group, every collective? Knowing each person individually takes a lot of courage, persistence, openness and compassion while judging others is easy. The ruling party is using technology brilliantly to propagate this judgemental attitude and I believe that the Opposition can stake a claim to power in 2019 only if they also use technology in equal measure to propagate the good values and counter BJP. I want the Opposition, especially Congress, to be proactive rather than reactive. I want them to make their own policies, forge their own path rather than taking actions based on the actions of the BJP. I believe people take all that Congress has done for granted. Apart from the physical infrastructure to the education infrastructure to development policies for the poor and the marginalized, the Congress has managed to give direction to such a huge country. They are not perfect, they made mistakes and they should own up to it. The very technology that Modiji and his party are putting to such good use today was also brought in by Congress – remember Sam Pitroda during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure. Let’s not live under an illusion, ultimately when no one is left to hate, it turns inwards and also starts affecting the people who started hating other people first. We are Indians, and it is a beautiful feeling to perceive poetry, food, music, literature, fashion and psychology and philosophy the way we do. No matter who comes to power, love should be number one on their manifesto. Things like demonetisation, rise in petrol prices, the confusion over GST, we can live with. What we can live is disharmony in society. We all want peace and love. I hope we all make a sensible decision in 2019.]]>

#MyVote2019 – ‘I Will Press NOTA Button'

Narendra Singh, 26, Restaurant Employee, Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) I completed my graduation in business administration from Jiwaji University five years back. Fresh out of college, in 2014, I voted for (Narendra) Modi. His speeches inspired me. He rose above caste, religion and talked only about development. That was the agenda I too expected from our country’s leaders in 21st century. I even travelled to Uttar Pradesh to attend one of his rallies in March 2014. Mesmerised by the response he drew from the crowd, I felt he was the destiny’s child who would change the way we live in India. I even fought with my parents, who are Congress supporters for generations. But sadly, even with Shivraj Singh in the state and Modi at the Centre, little changed for the common man in my region; I am sure the story is same everywhere in the country. Worse, we are now lynching people for cows, organizing crowds for Ram Temple and building statutes. Whatever happened to the development model! Since March 2014, I have learnt a lot about how politicians of all hues, be it Congress or BJP, thrive on sweet words and golden dreams. In the last five years I have been searching for a respectable job. I can speak fluent English, I have done MBA too. But where are the jobs Modiji promised? In the last four years, I have taken numerous examinations for a sarkari naukri, I have applied in every company from Dilli, Mumbai to Bengaluru that was looking for fresh graduates. Every day I would check my email for a positive response. Finally, look what I am doing here – he points to the ladle and dishes he is carrying – serving daal baati choorma. We own some farm land but the people managing it tell us that the yield is only falling while the cost of seeds and fertilisers are shooting up. For the past three years, there is no income from the land. My family’s favourite pastime is talking about our Bhadoria Rajput lineage. I have begun to feel sick now listening to those stories. Politicians tell us false stories about the future, and voters like my family stay drunk in their false glorious past. The present remains bleak. I will give you my personal example. Several years ago, there was a buzz in my native town that the land near the highway would become costly and builders will be paying handsome money for it. There was euphoria among land-owners. They kept counting their chicken before they hatched. Till date, there are no other takers to those tracts of land. Few understand that real estate business is in poor shape. But people are living in the hope of selling it one day and make good money. This is how politicians keep the voter on the hook – with hope of a better future. This is the lesson I have learnt which no university will ever teach you. I am happy that there is NOTA (none of the above) in the voting machine now. That is where I plan to press my finger.]]>