Vasant recently joined a political party. He was told that people could make quick money once you became popular in the party. Vasant was a good orator. That was the reason, he was picked up by local party brokers for stage shows. Earlier, he did not take side of any particular party. He would be on the stage as and when any party wanted to hold meetings. He thus became a crowd puller and got established that way. He knew the art of retaining the crowd for a longer time. No wonder! All parties had an eye on him and were trying to drag him into their party. What more! He was even taken on tours by one party when they arranged a series of meeting at various cities and towns. In every event, he gave his best performance and in return he was treated very well. He felt quite obliged and thus he enrolled himself as a member of that party. His dreams for fast buck and fast glory awaited him.
After his joining the party, there used to be a gang of people always surrounding him. When his father came to know about his lineage to political parties, he simply asked him to desist from such practices. Political big-wigs never cared for anyone as a loyal member. They in fact, never hesitated to throw him away after usage. Anybody and everybody would be a mere ‘Use and Throw’ commodity. Honesty, loyalty, integrity, truth, straight forwardness, etc., was never in their dictionary. Naturally, no father would ever encourage his son to be in politics. But what he did not understand that was that Vasant already got steeped deeply into the party and in dreams. As such, his father’s advice fell on deaf ears. Vasant was already blinded by some of his senior colleagues now rolling in riches. They were earlier living in their penuries or simply put, living just hand to mouth. But now their present status was far different. They had come out of their bygone era – only after joining this party. Obviously, he brushed aside what his father was trying to educate him. Heart of heart he had high regards for his father, as he commanded a respectable position in the society. But when it came to this aspect, he was not willing to budge.
“Appa, I have already become a member of this party. In recent months, I have gained lot of experience. I got a wider exposure to this outside world. Appa, you see, I was just a non-descript individual till yesterday. But now, you see for yourself. I am always surrounded by many well-wishers. With their blessings, I am sure to come up well. Very soon, you will find me up in the ladder. A big shot in the town.”
“My heart-felt regrets to you, my son. You are basking in an imaginary world of glory. This will soon fade away. Once again, I warn you. Better retreat and come back. Where there is no place for honesty, why do you want to be there? Personal gain and glory in politics are for people with cunning brains and deceitful practices. I am worried about your future. Mark my words. You will soon realise that you are on the wrong path.”
After pouring out his cautionary preaching, he went away. Vasant sat there aghast. For the first time, he thought, “Am I on the wrong side? Appa cannot be wrong. But I find all those veteran leaders doing awfully good. People greet them with giant size garlands and accord applauses wherever they went. Look at the lofty posters, flexi banners, life-size cut-outs, floral arrangements, neon lights, et all. I am sure, Appa is mistaken. I have to prove him that he is wrong. Not I.”
Once he had decided, there was no going back. He went to the party office. There he saw that a strong debate was being carried on. Verbal fight and exchange of harsh words. Vasant had never seen such a sight. He had witnessed only rosy and cushy and mushy sentimental flatteries. Upon enquiry from one of the colleagues he understood that date for state election was announced. All party members were keen on getting selected for candidatures. Verbal fight was for who should be the candidate and from which constituency. Many were eager to contest. Suddenly there was a pin drop silence. Their main leader came along with his group of henchmen. No one could believe that there was a big commotion there sometime before. Such was his control and command over the party. He, without any formal addresses or flowery speeches, straightaway broke open the topic. He had already come prepared with a list. He stood up stolidly and said,
“My dear Friends, I have thoroughly judged your qualities, capacities and capabilities. Based on such calculations, I have prepared this list. I am going to read out the names of candidates and their constituencies. If any of you feel that it is not okay with you, or not interested in contesting, or if you do not have sufficient funds to spend, then you can vacate. I shall replace those vacancies with fresh contestants, who are willing to fill the gap.” He paused. Soon he gathered himself and continued, I am also telling you right now that we must win and win all constituencies and we must win at all costs. No excuses. Hence, you please device your strategies and start campaigning. First and foremost, let me warn you all, there should be no communal quarrels, no derogatory mudslinging, no baseless defamatory abuses. Mind your public decorum.”
Sooner than he left, there was again a pitch of confusion, all sorts of chaotic utterances and high voltage drama. Those who did not find their names in the list, could not digest their disappointment. Those who were not given their choice of place were also not happy. Those who had limited resources to splash, also remained silent. Vasant was watching all these emotional sequences as though it was a fun filled drama. An elderly man, Ramanathan was chosen for his constituency and he had no qualms in contesting from there. He came to him. He called him aside.
“Hello young man! I know you are good at public speeches. I have heard you many times at many places. You talk nicely, with lots of jokes, puns, quotations and spicy short stories spewed in between. It is good to hear you. I want you to stand by me for my campaign and do the same for me. We will start our stage show from tomorrow. Listen to me carefully. Instead of you opening your speeches in your own way, simply do what I say. I will share some guarded secrets with you. I will give you my pen drive. You first go through the contents, point by point. Then you frame your speeches on those points and in those patterns. Did you catch my point? First you prepare one sketch of your talk. Then I will guide you. Once you get trained, you will have a bright future. No doubt about it.”
They went to the computer room in the party office. There was nobody there. All were in the hall still clamouring, quarrelling and debating about the list. Ramanathan closed the room while Vasant sat at the computer. As soon as pen drive was inserted, it started narrating. Initially, it was about the candidate Ramanthan, then his educational qualifications, his achievements in general, then similar ones for the party in particular and then what all conveniences he brought out for the ward he was standing. He had also narrated about his plans for the future development of his constituency. Vasant was very happy in reading all these notable points. He could easily flatter the man on these points and praise him sky-high.
Ramanathan who was sitting by his side, said, “Now you see carefully what is coming up. A similar narration about our staunch opponent party! I want you to blow this portion into manyfold and expose him. Whoever be the candidate, that’s not our concern. Our opposition party may place this man or some other guy in that ward. But he should be downgraded to such an extent that people simply reject him. Tardy and scandalous. That is our motto. Not a single vote should be pocketed by him. That is our aim.” Vasant in disbelief looked at Ramanathan.
”Sir, I know this man. He is very sober well behaved and good natured. Why, in fact, I had taken a conduct certificate from him for seeking college admission. I have high regards for this man. Just because he is from some other party, we need not criticize him.” Before Vasant would continue to speak, Ramanathan was all fury and full of anger. Ravaged man, stood up and shouted.
”Are you teaching me how I should do my campaigning? You small boy of yesterday’s sprouting! Do you know who I am? I am a veteran politician of thirty years. I had seen so many elections. I know how elections are fought. This time also I am going to win. Just do what I say. No need to preach me what is good and what is bad. Don’t you know a small guy pointing his accusing finger to the esteemed Prime Minister of the country, was shouting Chowkidar Chor Hai and stirred in a big drama and coveted a million likes in his facebook account. He shot to popularity instantly. That is politics.”
Vasant remained silent. Then slowly he got up. He removed the pen drive and gave it to Ramanathan. He said firmly and calmly. “I am sorry sir. This is beyond my capacity. I regret. Now I realise that I am a misfit here. With due apology, I withdraw from this campaigning.”
He walked out. He thought somebody was mocking at him. That was himself – his own conscience. He wanted to prove his father that he would be a big shot in politics. He wanted to prove that he was right and on the contrary his father was wrong. But now truth got exposed. His father’s words were ringing in his ears.
”Personal gain and glory in politics are for people with cunning brains and deceitful practices. Mark my words. You will soon realise that you are on the wrong path.” How true he was. With a heavy heart he thought of Ramanathan and such other politicians. “How easily they malign others for their own personal benefits. Unhesitatingly, they defame people regardless of what they are. Have they ever thought that even they would be targeted by their opponents in the same manner? One thing is sure. These people have no conscience of their own. Thank God! I have not stooped so low to bury my conscience. Otherwise, it will be pricking me forever. Good riddance to instant popularity and instant richness. Thank you, Appa for warning me. You were right and you are always right.”
Fathers are always right.