The poor candidates, who had risked their lives to strengthen democracy in the state, were ditched Zahir-ud-Din
Introduction and preparation: VIPs (very Important Person) are found in every corner of the world. One has to work hard, burn midnight oil and at times risk life to become a VIP. But in this part of the world, anybody can become a VIP his educational qualification, contribution to the society and nation building notwithstanding. The past two decades have witnessed mushroom growth of VIPs in the state. Becoming a VIP has become the easiest job in this conflict ridden state. Just contest an election and become a VIP. You will get a vehicle, a couple of personal security guards (PSOs), official accommodation and easy access to places where the angels fear to tread.
In 1996 when the government held elections after a long gap of nine years, many people contested elections. Those winners became VIPs. They had done a commendable job by bailing out the country at a very difficult time. But those who lost their deposits also became VIPs. They enjoyed official hospitality for quite some time. Most of them even misused their `privileges’. They extorted money from gullible people in the name of providing government employment to the unemployed. Some played the saviour in lieu of handsome considerations. They had truck with the law enforcing agencies and would demand hefty sums for the release of innocent people arrested in the garb of upholding the unity and integrity of the country.
The unsuccessful candidates of 2002 elections also reaped a good harvest. Suddenly the government decided to take democracy to the grass roots level. Municipal elections were announced. A good number of people in a bid to become VIPs joined the fray. This time the government had other plans. Most probably it could not afford an alarming increase in the number of VIPs. The candidates were not provided PSOs or vehicles. Instead, they would be herded to concerned police stations at night. After the elections, this `privilege’ was also withdrawn. The poor candidates, who had risked their lives to strengthen democracy in the state, were ditched. They had to fend for themselves.
The people did not learn any lessons. They forgot the plight of these lesser mortals who had to go from pillar to post to seek pardon for the `sins’ they had committed. All records were broken during the recently concluded assembly elections. As many as 469 independent candidates jumped into the troubled waters. A few succeeded. The rest of the lot was not as fortunate as their predecessors. Their VIP status ended on the next day of counting. All of them had to vacate the accommodation provided by the government. The vehicles were withdrawn. Alas! The PSOs also left them in the lurch.
Wali Khan, who contested from Amira Kadal constituency on Samanta Party ticket, has a woeful tale to tell. In an interview with a Delhi based newspaper, Khan said: “We were promised Rs 5 lakh each for contesting the elections. Till date we have not received a single penny. We have nobody to fall back upon. Where shall we go?”
Giving details he added: “I saw one of my colleagues at a particular place. He looked pale and gloomy. His security and vehicle had been withdrawn. He did not know what to do. I advised him to go home in a cab.” But going home is not that easy especially in the urban areas.
Khan intends to address a press conference shortly. “I will expose all those who persuaded us to contest elections. The intelligence agencies were never sure of peoples’ participation in elections. They were desperate. The social boycott call of the dissidents was a cause of worry for them. We were used to ensure a respectable poll percentage. But when the people came out to vote in large numbers, we lost our sheen. Not to speak of getting the money promised to us, we have been denied security. We have been used a guinea pigs”, he said.
The government has come out with flying colours. According to a noted columnist, the persons who made the `grand show’ possible deserve due acknowledgement. And why not? The poll percentage in Jammu Kashmir is much higher than the national average. But the `unsung heroes’ who helped the government in achieving the cherished goal have been deserted and forgotten. They also deserve accolades. What are they demanding any way? VIP status? Why not give it to them? The government must never run short of vehicles and PSOs to keep the `unsung heroes’ in good humour. The government may need them again during the forthcoming parliamentary elections!
The needs of these desperate souls are not too many. Five to six persons can be adjusted in a single flat guarded by two PSOs. A vehicle for every flat can do wonders to their `disturbed’ psyche. Let them have the `honour’ of taking their wives to shopping in a government vehicle with a PSO always ready to open its door for the madam. However, the government has to maintain strict vigil on them lest they go astray and make life difficult for the gullible public.
Physical properties: A VIP does not need any special skill. The height, colour of eyes, colour of hair, identification marks and etiquettes are no consideration. He is seen wearing a well tailored suit. His sparkling shoes make people focus attention on him. Some times he wears a Khan suit and a waist coat to strike a chord. He gives pungent smell of cheap cigarettes and desi alcohol in the evening. He is at his best when shopping with his wife.
Chemical properties: He is allergic to the unemployed youth who call on him to seek refund of the sum given to him for getting them employed in government department. His blood rushes to his ears. His hands tremble with anger. He screams scare the poor souls. However, some hard nuts shout back at him much to his discomfort. The brawl ends when his PSOs chase them away.
His glands stop producing adrenalin when an officer or minister ridicules him. He lowers his eyes and in a jiffy folds his hands. Similarly his brain directs his heart to miss a beat when a stranger gets closer to him.
To make his presence felt he forms an NGO. A few hired volunteers go from village to village to woo people. Some times the NGO donates blankets, rice bags and medicines to the people. Holding medical camps in remote villages is their favourite pastime. The NGO, for some times, acts as a magnet. But sooner than latter the magnet loses its charge.
He acts as a catalyst during elections and political rallies. During such times he not only gets his cake but eats it too. However, the reaction is not always irreversible. When it reverses, the VIP goes back to square one. His security is withdrawn, he is forced to vacate his official accommodation and his wife is deprived of the honour of travelling in an escorted government vehicle. This is exactly what happened this time. The “election mill” could not produce VIPs this time.
Uses: The government uses them for a variety of reasons. They are supposed to meet the visiting journalists and diplomats to present a rosy picture of otherwise explosive situation. They are used to counter the genuine human rights organizations at local, regional and international level. They are used to increase the poll percentage. Sometimes they are used as middle men by politicians when they operate through them. This time besides bailing the government out they provided an opportunity to the dissident leadership to go for introspection.
Disposal: Disposing them off is not a difficult job at all. Yes, they pollute the social environment for some time but unlike polythene they can be easily disposed off. They become extinct when the government withdraws the privileges conferred on them.
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