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   My favourite story is that of a poor humble citizen... (May 15, 1991)

My favourite story is that of a poor humble citizen living in ahutment colony adjoining the multistoreyed Cuffe Parade complex. He works in a tanning factory, where conditions cannot be worse, and, though still in his 30s, is already suffering from several ailments of the heart, lungs and throat.

For his work, six-and-a-half days in a week, he earns Rs. 700, with which he supports a wife, three children, aged mother, unmarried sister, and an alcoholic brother.

But he is a good man, always helping out other people, doing little services for the aged and the infirm. He is also reasonably educated, at least he can read and write, so on nights when he is not on duty he teaches the children in the colony. But there is no future for him, and judging from the standard of the municipal school that his children are going to, none for them also.

Then, one day, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi pulls the carpet from under Mr. Chandra Shekhar's feet and elections are announced. From our man's constituency, which is South Bombay, the same candidates are standing all over again, Mr. Murli Deora and Mr. Premkumar Sharma, one representing blackmarketeers, the other representing communalists. People in the hutment colony are tired of these candidates, they have done nothing for them. They suggest that our friend should stand for the elections, as an independent. They would all vote for him.

Our friend points out that are so few, and probably the government has not bothered to register them as voters. And the constituency itself is os large, there are so many people, extending through the Fort and Bori Bunder to the Muslim area, and along Marine Drive to Malabar Hill. They would vote for Mr. Deora, and Mr. Sharma, whose posters, flags, jeeps, cab be seen everywhere. Why would anybody vote for him!

But the people in the hutment colony are adamant - he should stand for the elections. So he does. World spreads to the tall skycrapers around, and the residents there say to one another, every year they have been voting ofr these known faces and they have done nothing for the country, this time they would vote for, and unknown person who seems to be genuine. And the Cuffe parade people tell their friends on Peddar Road and Carmichael Road, and they in turn tell their friends on Malabar Hill and they all agree.

And the Muslims of Mahammedali Rad say that at last they have found a candidate who does not think in terms of Hindu and Muslim votebanks, but only thinks of the poor.

Then the entire campaign snowballs: Mr. Madhu Mehta and Mr. Nana Chudasama join the campaign, Mr. Nani Palkhivala writes letters to the editor, Mahindra lend hundreds of jeeps, Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani gives his helicopter, Tata Press prints free of charge out friend's campaign posters. India Today does a cover story - the most heart warming election campaign in the country.

The elections are held, votes are cast and counted, our friend loses his deposit.

 
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