“Naav nahi takat tumcha” (Your name won’t be mentioned), I say to him.
He doesn’t question my sincerity, showing his in turn. He just smiles. How… political.
“I can say a lot but the public has to believe me. Trust goes out of the window when the word ‘politician’ comes into the picture. However, I know that me and my brothers and sisters have to keep trying. The only way forward is by continuously trying to maintain a conversation with the public.”
“I’ve always wanted to ask how the background of a politician affects his career”. I attempt to soothe the conversation before it gets patronising.
“It plays the most important part in getting him elected and keeping him in his seat. By background, I’ll talk about education first. A lot of politicians these days get elected because of their contacts, but they lack the knowledge of politics. Politics isn’t always about gut instincts; you need to know how to take informed decisions.”
“How authentic are our Puneri politicians? Or is it just a position which is offered as a prize to the tug-of-war winner?”, I ask bluntly.
“This is what the sincere ones amongst us are trying to convey to the people- we take our jobs very seriously. I’ll say it again, it’s a job and a responsibility, not a prize. We have to earn the respect by letting our actions speak. I try to initiate a change as much as I can, and it works sometimes. The other times, I don’t get support.”
“Why isn’t there enough transparency in your modus operandi?”
“Who says there isn’t?”, he asks back. “Media tells how they see fit. Yes, of course the paperwork can’t be leaked out in public, but every decision can be traced back by the way and course of execution. A political party runs in a very different way than how the media shows it. Not a one-man-show at all.”
“I’m sorry to ask this so bluntly, but what of the corruption?”
“Yes, the biggest problem in and for our government, but tell me, isn’t corruption practiced everywhere? We have all tried our own ways of battling it, but sometimes, the skeleton of a city operates on it. It’s an individual fight first and then a system’s; a spoilt mango ruins the crate. I have seen fellow politicians turn a blind eye towards obvious corruption, even though they weren’t accepting bribes. Everyone is to be blamed; for starting it first, and then letting it go on. It’s become a part of our country honestly, and it needs to change. I have been a victim as well as a perpetrator once; we all are forced to play our cards. It’s politics, not a philosophy lecture.”
I’m somewhat stunned by the forwardness. Politicians are charming, dangerous, fickle creatures, but my distrust towards them aside, this man was at least brutally blunt.
“A message for Punekars?”
“Have faith in us, please. Call us out if we are in the wrong, but have faith and give us some time. The wrongs of our political fathers can’t be corrected in a day, but we’re trying. There’s a change on the dawn, just be patient. Pune is going to keep progressing rapidly; join hands and support us in making it the best city in the country!”