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   The other day, I had the opportunity... (April 18, 1991)

The other day, I had the opportunity to visit a vote bank. The bank manager received me in his office and explined: "Just as there are banks where you deposit and withdraw money, so there are banks where you deposit and withdraw vote."

"I have heard about that," I said. "Which vote back is this?"

"This is a Muslim vote back," the manager said. "There are Harijan vote banks, backward classes vote banks, caste Hindus' vote banks, farmer's vote bank, but this is a Muslim vote bank."

"Is it a big bank?" I asked.

"As vote banks go, it is preety big," the manager said. "It is not for me to boast about our own bank, but it is said that whichever politician can draw on the Muslim vote bank, his future is assured in UP and Bihar, which, as you know, are two states which carry the largest vote assest in the country."

"Who are your depositors?" I asked.

"We are a very public-oriented bank, for the common man, so we maintain that the ordinary Muslim voter with his single vote in our biggest depositor," the manager said. "If you go to a backward classes or an OBC vote back, they will tell you the same thing.

"I am happy you hold in such regard your ordinary depositor," I said. "Do you have any agents, out in the field, who generate deposits for you?"

"Oh, certainly," the manger said. "Our biggest agent is Imam Buhkari, in his time he has got us millions of depositors. Of late, Mulayam Singh Yadav has also got us many depositors. But in his case, he is both a depositor and a withdrawer. Not that we have anything against such agents, we are a merchants bank."

"How is business?" I asked.

"Very, very good," the manager said. "Right now is our busiest time. Formely, we used to be busy once in five years, now we are busy every two years, now we are busy every two years. Plus there are the sundry assembly elections when also there is a virtual raid on our banks."

"You must be having some very big clients," I said.

"Very big. In a single day, we may have Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Mr. Chandra Shekhar, eager to secure credit facilities of the Muslim vote bank," the manager said.

"Could you show me around the bank?" I asked.

"Some other time," the manager said, looking out of his viewing glass. "Notice that man with the fur cap and the glazed look in the eyes, who has just come in. He is one of our biggest customers, I have to attend to him."

 
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