POLITICS AND ME
As a kid, in some lower school, I had read a phrase,’ Politics Is the Game of Scoundrels’. Then I was too young to understand the meaning and significance there of. My father was in the Civil Services and often I would see him being upset on occasions and discussing his tensions with my mom. They would become silent whenever I approached them but names of some politicians did fell in my ears. But then I was too busy wither in studies or loafing around or playing games that I never bothered to understand the purport there of. Then media was not that active and stories of political victimization never came up. The press was goody-goody and I idealistic, projecting only the ‘verbal garbage’ vomited by politicians.
It was only when I came in to service that I saw the political gimmickry and their ‘filthy play’, primarily aimed at ensuring victimization of the rivals for one reason or the other, political or ‘economic’ or both. They said one thing in the public and did the right opposite in private. And often I would find political rivals; sitting together devouring feasts and gulping choicest of drinks together after having spitted at each other not very long in the past. Still I will call it ‘darshans’ of politics from the fringe because I was not in the thick there of and performing my duties to the best of my sincerity, was my prime focus. I have been a born ‘activist and a revolutionary’ and could never vibe well with politician because of which I was even unceremoniously thrown out of the state of Punjab in early eighties, by the political powers that be. I remained on ‘vanwas’ for about a decade.
It was only after my liberation from the bondage, popularly called retirement, in 2012, that I became the first had witness of the political skullduggery. It was the time when I first met Anna Hazare and joined him. By this time Arvind Kejariwal had departed from his camp but futile efforts were on to bring them together once again. After meeting me in the Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi, Anna asked me to join him. I attended several meetings as a member of his core group only to get the firsthand account of the bickering within. Regional ‘satraps’ from all over the country harped on their own agenda, often leading to bitter acrimony. Of the entire lot, I admired Medha Patekar, a simple, yet a firm lady, whom I respect a lot. I will not go deep into the gimmickry within the group. Anna was a bitter man by then and one fine morning the ‘core group’ and all other sets ups were dissolved and an disillusioned and embittered Anna retreated to Ralegan Sidhi.
I returned back to Punjab and decided to carry on my anti drug tirade which I had started way back in 2007, while being in service and which became a political issue in 2011 when I was still in service. I exposed the ongoing drug racket in the Punjab, both in the open civil society as also in the prison houses. It was 2013 now and I, alone, was talking about drugs and trying to expose the racket with the help of the media, both print and electronic. I categorically admit that it was only because of the media, which stood by me and still stands by me, that I could and am still running my one man campaign despite threats and attempts on life. It reminds me of Robindro Nath’s ‘Ekla Chalo Re’; eh, me and my one man army with the active support of the media.
Come winters of 2013, and early in the morning, a group of Punjab Police goons made an abortive attempt to kidnap me from my house in Chandigarh. It became futile because at my request, the media took no time to reach my house, the place of occurrence. The goons of the Punjab police ran away leaving their vehicles, ropes and sticks, behind. It was only one of the long lists of attempts on my life. Threats and attempts by unknown people still continue and the mighty Chandigarh police continue refusing to lodge my complaints. They had even refused to acknowledge the open and shut case of attempt to kidnap me, which was witnessed by the entire media.
Anyhow, enumerating complaints is not the purpose of this write up. I mentioned it because the very evening of the foiled attempt to kidnap me, Sanjay Singh of AAP, accompanied by H.S. Phoolka, advocate, landed up at my residence to stand by me. It was a great support for me and I can never even stop thanking them for having stood by me. In a short and crisp meeting held in the adjoining room, they asked me to join AAP, which was trying to obtain a foot hold in Punjab. Being ‘a-political or rather, anti-political’, I was taken aback but promised them to consider the same. After a few days I got a call from Rajiv Godara, AAP spokes man from Haryana that Yogendra Yadav was in town and wanted to meet me and family to express his solidarity. I said that he was welcome and he came the next morning. He asked me to join AAP, but given my inborn reluctance, I refused. Then he talked to my wife Rita and son Apurv and they cajoled me to accept the proposal and I joined AAP in a press conference held later the same day in the Chandigarh press club.
I took my joining seriously and started travelling meeting local party units and activists, encouraging and bucking them up. I also attended public meetings organized in various districts. I kept Yogendra informed of the developments and he was more than happy all along. 2014 Lok Sabha elections were approaching fast and the central party leadership nominated a multi member core committee for Punjab for the purpose of co-ordination. Sumail Singh Sidhu, a protégé of Yogendra was nominated as the head there of. He was basically from Delhi and was, as such opposed by senior party activists of Punjab. Barring a few members like Taran deep of Jalandhar, my induction in the committee was also not favoured locally because given my social position they feared that I could steal the lime light. Sumail, whom I had never met before, was absolutely hostile. His and others resentment against me came out in open in the very first meeting held in Jalandhar. Soon bickering started between Sumail and others and the acrimony became public.
By this time differences between Arvind Kejari wal and Yogendra had started coming up and they were becoming more and more acute day by day. Since I had joined AAP at Yogendra’s behest, Arvind and others perceived me to be his man. Sumail’s antagonistic attitude lost Yogendra to me. This notwithstanding, I played an active part in mobilizing people for the AAP. I visited all over resolving differences.
One day Phoolka rang me up stating that he was to be the party candidate from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency and asked me to join him in Amritsar from where he wanted to go to Ludhiana in a car-cade after paying obeisance in Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar. I agreed but I could not reach Amritsar in time and joined his car-cade in Ludhiana. He still nurtures grouse against me for not having joined in Amritsar and openly accuses me of having done it deliberately.
AAP candidates were being announced. I welcomed nominations and stood by nominees including Dr. Gandhi, Khalsa and Phoolka from Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana respectively. I went to each of these places to muster support in their favour.
One day, Phoolka called me up asking me to go to Bhatinda saying that Arvind wanted me contest from there. The moment I reached there. Two co-ordination committee members namely Kultar and Kheta Singh reached there and asked me to leave the hall where a press conference was going on. They were apparently sent by Sumail at the behest of Yogendra. Not wanting to precipitate, I withdrew and came back to Chandigarh. Then came in the offer that I should contest from Anandpur sahib but I firmly refused saying that I was not interested in electoral politics and that it all was beyond me.
After a few days a Punjabi singer named Jassi Jasraj, who had been in touch with me and whom I had inducted in the AAP Chandigarh, came to me saying that he was asked by Phoolka to go to Bhatinda since he was to be the AAP candidate from there. Being a friend, I readily agreed and weft for Bhatinda along with another young man named Ram Singh Azad, who had introduced Jassi to me. I stayed in Bhatinda and we sincerely campaigned for Jassi for several days. By now I was totally out of touch with both Arvind and Yogendra. I got disillusioned with the local party politics and bickering even in Bhatinda.
But then againi was called by Phoolka to Ludhiana to mobilized people in his favour. I foolishly again went there and put in all sincere efforts. I attended several rallies, party meetings and even door to door canvassing. I remained with him till the arrival of Arvind at Ludhiana when I was violently thrown away by the mob the moment Arvind’s car-cade arrived, I fell on the ground and something injured my eye seriously and it remained in cover for a long time. It was when I finally decided to come back to Chandigarh and just carry on my anti drug tirade.
My temporary association with the AAP notwithstanding, the 2014 Lok Sabha elections also saw, B.J.P. as also the Congress High commands frantically approached me to join them but my political disillusionment was complete and I politely refused. I also resigned from the AAP.
Lok Sabha results were astonishing. AAP made enviable debut in Punjab, capturing four seats. The divide between Arvind and Yogendra was also complete.
As on date I am not in AAP, though frankly, I am somewhat inclined in their favour. But then I am neither Arvind’s nor Yogendra’s man. Their senior co-coordinators like Sucha Singh Chotepur and Durgesh Pathak as also Delhi leaders like Sanjay Singh, Manish Sisodia and Raghav Chadha realize that I am difficult to be ‘handled’. Overtures both by the B.J.P. and the Congress continue, but I have realized that one is most suited to the job that one is good at. I was, am and will remain an activist. Politicians across the ‘horizon’ remained upset with me as long as I was in service. When I came out of the bondage then also politicians across the spectrum are unhappy with me.
Let them remain.
I am happy as one man army fighting against drugs and would like to go into the oblivion as such.
That is POLITICS AND ME