The Duo - Gharshanam
The Duo - Gharshanam
…the servant brought medicines in some time and Pathak Ji was administered those medicines. After that, Pathak Ji slept on the sofa for a full two hours. Rajini Devi was sobbing and sitting beside him, in the meantime she was also giving instructions to the servants for the dinner preparations.
After 2 hours, slowly, Pathak Ji opened his eyes. He was trying to get up and to sit properly upon the couch. Rajini Devi helped him and he sat properly. He did not speak for a while and Rajini Devi too was silent. She was watching sometimes to Pathak Ji and sometimes to the floor of the house.
“How are you feeling now?” Rajini Devi asked him hesitatingly after wiping out her tears.
Pathak Ji sighed and looking toward Rajini Devi, he said “feeling a bit better now”
“wait for some minutes…. please give me some water”
Rajini Devi stood up and went towards the fridge. She poured some cold water in a glass, followed by some warm water in it from the kitchen, and brought it for the Pathak Ji. Giving him water, She asked, "Have some biscuits?" Pathak Ji nodded and She called a servant for the biscuits which he brought in a plate. Pathak Ji had some biscuits and a glass of water. After a few minutes, he said to her "Let's have dinner…. I feel hungry now."
Rajini Devi started arranging dinner on a huge dining table. Pathak Ji wanted to ask “Has Vaibhav come?” but he did not.
They both started Dinner without talking to each other. Only audible sounds there were actually coming from the voices of servants and the sounds of cutleries. It was a tense silence there in the room.
Pathak Ji finished first but he was sitting there, waiting for her wife to finish the dinner. After Rajini devi's dinner, they both stood up and moved towards their bedroom. Rajini Devi turned to a servant and instructed: "If Vaibhav comes then serve him a hot meal".
Both of them were sitting on the bed quietly. It seemed that the tensed silence of the dining table too came into the room with them. Pathak Ji broke the ice "Rajini, you can not say that I want to harm my own son or I don't want him to become an M.P…..because if this was the truth, then I have saved him from the police so many times…… it would not have happened.”
Rajini Devi was listening quietly with the head down.
“I know that we have been telling him since his childhood that only he would be the next M.P. from the City Central Lok Sabha constituency…….but please tell me how voters, which are around 40 lakhs or some more, would be convinced by Vaibhav? How can we garner votes on his name? and that too, when every person of the city knows about him and his activities so well? Wherever he goes, he engages himself in a scuffle and his last sentence is like “…do you know me who I am?.....I am Vaibhav Pathak…..son of Mr. Pathak Ji, the M.P….” Now tell me, how can he fetch votes for himself and for the party? Rural masses see Vijay around 3-4 times in a month with a party vehicle having my and Krishna babu’s photographs while they see Vaibhav only twice a year. How can he ask them for votes?.... In order to garner votes, It is imperative these days to visit the rural and far-flung areas, to talk with those poor people…..and to show them that you are working for them. The time is now passing swiftly when the father was a tall leader and the rural masses voted to their children on the name of their father. This is no more. We are now witnessing a worldwide storm of Globalization, and Liberalization, due to which, the upcoming, educated generations of these rural folks would certainly not vote to the son or daughter of a tall leader just because of their parents had been doing this for their tall and old leader and they were feeling ‘emotional connect’ and ‘loyalty’ with that leader. It will be nothing like ‘emotional connect’ and ‘loyalty’ in the future. These new generations would only vote to a person who would work for them and who would listen to them regularly……and you know this quite well that without the support of these rural masses, one can never win any election in India. That's the reality.
“…so what should be done here…please tell me?” Rajini Devi was tensed.
“ You please try to make him understand that this is high time for an image make-over. He should show improvement in his habits, conduct, and behavior. This is actually, the first and foremost condition for somebody to get success in politics. Even if we keep the family matters and personal issues aside, then too, it is necessary to him to change himself in the eyes of the masses, and there is not much time left…..we have only 18 or 20 months…..and he will have to reform himself. Rajini Devi was listening carefully and She said with a sigh “We have told this very thing so many times to him….but it seems, he has lost it completely…..there is a medicine of every disease in medical science, but it is no cure of evil and bad habits….what more can we do?” Pathak Ji told her “I think you should tell him that he should spend most of his time with Vijay now. More the time he will spend with Vijay, the more the benefits would be there. We will have to talk also with Vijay in this regard, that he should help Vaibhav out. I will also talk to Krishna Babu about it. This is the only way out”. Rajini Devi said “O.K.…. We will give a try this time too.”
Then She said “….but let me tell you one thing clearly…..please do not mention the name of that Geetika in front of me, come what may….I simply cannot tolerate.”
Pathak Ji said, "But listen to me once…."
Rajini Devi interrupted “No…..I have already said…..you please do not mention her name…..come what may.”
Pathak Ji was listening.
She continued "I will neither speak much nor will argue further……but I must say that please don't gift anybody by snatching away the rights of Vaibhav…..at least never to her."
Pathak Ji reasoned with her “….but Rajini, Geetika is pretty much capable, and importantly, She has a decent public image ….even leaders and workers of the party like her so much, and a fact you are ignoring…..because of that this argument took place….that this Parliamentary seat of City Central must not go into the hand of somebody outside of the family at any cost, be it Vijay or anybody else. It would be far better to keep the seat within the family…..and if not by Vaibhav, then definitely by Geetika…..why anybody from outside should be allowed to reap the benefits of my work?......ultimately it is our family which matters most to us”.
Rajini Devi said "What you are saying is 100% correct, I am not against it….but don't discuss about Geetika with me. As far as the City Central Lok Sabha seat is concerned, it would be held by either You or by your son, Vaibhav. No other person would be allowed to the middle. I will definitely talk to Vijay in this regard as soon as possible…..you too will talk to Krishna Babu that he should talk to Vijay."
“O.K.” Pathak Ji said. “ I will talk to him tomorrow…..now are you O.K.?”
“Yes,” Rajini Devi answered and then She slept very soon.
The next morning around 10, Rajini Devi rang to Krishna Babu’s home in the Georgetown area. A servant picked-up the phone—
“Hello…this is Rajini Devi, from Pathak Ji's home”
“ Yes madam! Pranaam….tell me what I can do?”
“Is Vijay there?”
“Yes…please hold for a minute, I am going to him”
Vijay cane and picked the receiver up "Ji Auntie ji….Pranam!!"
"May you always happy Vijay….. it seems you have forgotten your Auntie Ji?" She pretended to laugh.
"Absolutely not Auntie ji!……..whenever you want, I will be there," Vijay replied politely.
“So you will come here only when I will say…..do you not want yourself to visit here?.......anyways, I have to discuss something with you……when will you come?”
“I will come by 11 AM tomorrow…. is it O.K.?” Vijay asked.
“O.K.,…. it's fine.” Rajini Devi affirmed and She disconnected the call.
That day in the Party office, Krishna Babu came to meet Pathak Ji for some work, when Pathak Ji made him sit beside him “Please wait for Krishna Babu……I have something to share with you”. At that time, there were many people in that room. After some time, all of them had gone and then Pathak Ji said to Krishna Babu “I desperately need some help…..in case of Vaibhav”
“Yes, please tell me”
“What should I tell you Krishna Babu?....you are not an outsider and you know all the things quite well……..I am unable to make him proceed on a right path….it seems that there is no way out. We started a business for him, which he has eventually ruined……we somehow married him to a decent girl like Beena, but he could not save that marriage also. You already know about his other activities too. Nobody speaks in from of me, but behind my back?.... I know each and everybody hates him so much…including my party’s workers and leaders.”
Krishna Babu was listening.
Pathak Ji said “…so I need your help Krishna Babu”
“Yes, yes….you speak…he is our own child….whatever I can do, definitely I will.”
“Then please listen to me…..you please ask Vijay to get Vaibhav along with him, wherever he goes, in whatever he does……so that Vaibhav may also get some maturity, a good exposure, some kind of learning and political, social training. He will also meet the people, he will learn how to tackle them, how to convince them and other things too…...after all these young ones are the future of our party. They will have to carry the upcoming responsibilities on their shoulders.
Krishna Babu nodded.
“Vijay is highly qualified, much capable and mentally, he is very strong and most importantly, he connects with masses so well. Vaibhav has none of these qualities.” Pathak Ji said and had some water then.
Krishna Babu was looking at him silently and was trying to assess the situation.
Then Pathak Ji said in a low, depressed voice “It is true Krishna Babu, that Vaibhav is a-good-for-nothing kind of son…..but after all he is our son, and it's a reality. He may be called as a rascal by the other people behind me, but to us, he is our little world….he is everything to us." Krishna Babu nodded again.
“So you please ask Vijay….please consider it as a request from an old, depressed, and a helpless father”, and Pathak ji folded his hands in front of Krishna babu, to which Krishna Babu reacted “Please don’t embarrass me Pathak ji…..if you think that by taking such efforts, Vaibhav will start towards a right path, then definitely I will ask Vijay to do so…..I will talk to him today at dinner.” Then Pathak ji thanked him “Thank you so much Krishna Babu!!...if Vaibhav will start to behave sensibly, I will never forget your gratitude.” Then they discussed some other things, after which Krishna Babu departed.
It was a late-evening when Krishna Babu was sitting alone in his drawing room and was thinking "…so Pathak Ji is thinking seriously about the political future of Vaibhav. It means He wants to get him elected as an MP from City Central Lok Sabha seat. If Pathak Ji himself wants it then who will object?... It will happen for sure. Then what will Vijay get out of it?.... He would be just sidelined despite all of his excellent academic credentials, capabilities, hard work for the party, noble thoughts, and decent image…they are of no use, it seems. How Vaibhav would be reformed?....with the help of Vijay?.....and what Vijay will have at the end?...nothing?.....or maybe, He would be an MLA at max……means there is no value of the party for Pathak Ji. Also, he does not count the capabilities, intentions, hard work of the next person. What matters most to him is His only son…..his own blood, and His political legacy which He wants to be carried by only His son while everybody and even He himself is well aware of the fact, that leave the Lok Sabha seat alone, Vaibhav cannot win even a petty Municipal Corporation election. A man who cannot stand on his feet even for half-an-hour due to excess of drugs and alcohol….and leave the public meetings of lakhs of the people alone, he cannot address even his 50-100 party workers in his own party office in Hindi language for 10-15 minutes. He could not manage to get admission in University or any degree college of the city and He had to pursue graduation from a Distance Education, that too ended in a second-division B.A., after that, he could not continue it. He was the most hated figure for the masses, even for the leaders and workers of Shramshakti Party. People hated him just like they hate Pigs. He always behaved pathetically with the leaders and party workers, so they hated him so much and He was considered as a person who ruined his family, his wife and the daughter and the whole city knew that he was a womanizer, even then Pathak Ji is favouring him, and who is paying the price for it?......... Krishna Babu's own son, Vijay. Even Pathak Ji always considered Vijay as the most promising, hard-working, capable and popular youth leader…….and He knew that even 100 persons likes of Vaibhav could not match for Vijay. Be it academics or politics or establishing connect with masses, Vijay was on a different pedestal altogether………Krishna Babu cultivated so many dreams about Vijay, and, they all were crumbling down slowly. He himself could not manage to get a Lok Sabha seat but He dreamed about Vijay always as an MP of City Central Lok Sabha seat.
Another contradictory aspect was the loyalty of Krishna Babu towards Pathak Ji. He had been with him in every thick and thin for 35-odd years. He never deserted him right from University days to this time. Pathak Ji blindly trusted him, even more than his real brothers. Both of them witnessed so many things together in the journey of these 35-odd years, and Krishna Babu got so many chances of overthrowing Pathak Ji, but He always preferred to strengthen Pathak Ji instead. Opposition parties had offered many times, so many lucrative packages to him in the past, including cash, Lok Sabha seat, Cabinet Ministerial post but he declined everything firmly and politely and preferred the company of his old friend Pathak Ji. Now it was a question looming large. Should he sacrifice the interests of his son and his long-cherished dreams in favor of his loyalty and strong friendship?.....Absolutely not!!”
After every minute calculation Krishna Babu decided if Vaibhav was going towards self- destruction voluntarily, He would not prevent him for sure. Every individual must be held accountable for his or her deeds. A person who cannot fulfill his or her responsibilities deliberately, He or She don't have a right to be rewarded. Vaibhav had opted path for him and his family voluntarily, knowing all the consequences, and Pathak ji and Rajini Devi fully backed him as Dhritarashtra and Gaandhari backed Duryodhana. So, therefore what was transpiring by then, it was perfect for Krishna Babu and Vijay that they should not have interrupted it. Krishna Babu would not ask Vijay for this thing.
It was around 10 in the night one day when Pathak Ji was working late-night in his small chamber at his residence after the dinner. It was important to do home-work for an upcoming party meeting. Pathak Ji was a sharp-minded, shrewd politician who knew the importance of proper home-work. He never used to go to a party meeting or to a public meeting without proper and intensive preparations. Then there were some other works pending related to his constituency too, they were to be also completed. Exactly then, the telephone on his table rang. He picked up the call "Hello?"
“Hello!...Papa pranaam!!... it's me Nandan here.”
“Yes Nandan!….speak up son…….You have called late night, is everything O.K.?”
“Yes, yes….nothing to worry about as such…everything in fine thanks to your blessings.”
“So….how is you mother?”
“She is O.K. now…..you know, it takes some time to get over it…. Then She is an old lady…..She thinks a bit much.”
“Well it is a fact….they had been living happily together for 55-odd years….then suddenly it happened….it is very difficult to her to come with the terms……here too we are just passing the days, let’s see up to which extent.”
“So tell me Nandan….what is the matter?”
“I have to share with you something,….some important matter. Whenever you will be free then tell me the timings, I will be there. “
“Well….I will have to leave for Delhi in upcoming days…there is an appointment at Safdarjung Hospital, and then there is a party meeting too. I will return on Saturday morning, the 12th of this month. You may come on 13th, Sunday evening. We will have dinner and we will also discuss whatever you want to."
“O.K.,that’s good!.... I will be there at that time…..now I am putting it down…..Pranaam Papa!....please convey my Pranaam to Mata ji also.”
“O.K., O.K.,…..definitely. Good Night Nandan!
“Good night Papa” , and then the call got disconnected.
T.V News and Newspapers were continuously speculating about the internal issues of Shramshakti Party but there was another news coming from a non-descriptive village of Akbarabad which was creating ripples among the political and business class as well. The village Rasoolpur Nindaura was located on Akbarabad-Lucknow highway and it was distanced about 45 k.m. from Akbarabad City. That was a Muslim dominated village, and the only source of income of the villagers was agriculture. The land was pretty fertile, and productive and ideal soil for agriculture. The farmers of this village had been sitting on an agitation for the last few days. They were agitating against the Land Acquisition process which was in relation to a proposed I.T. Knowledge Park which was to be established by a private I.T. major from Britain. They were saying that the proposed I.T. Park would not yield any benefit to them, on the contrary, their only source of income, their fertile, and productive land would be snatched away. So they started an agitation.
Actually, It was a fragile situation, a very critical time for India as far as its politico-economic and socio-cultural aspects were concerned. After 1990, a storm of liberalization, privatization and globalization engulfed the whole world and it was impossible to resist it, leave the turning it back alone. India was also not an exception. After 1990, Central govt. and almost all the provincial governments in India started, to remove import bans, to welcome foreign investment, to provide a seamless flow of foreign capital, labour and technology in a phase-wise manner. Central Govt. and all the provincial governments, regardless of the political parties were desperate to attract more and more foreign investment and thus they were offering lucrative packages to investors. It was a tough competition among provincial governments in this regard and every government was trying its best to show that their state was the best place to invest and to generate maximum profit for the investors. In a very short period, a clear and loud message was going throughout the world that India was the best place to invest and to reap the profit. So overall it was the time when governments, private sector, and even general masses of India were gearing up themselves to take a flight towards the dream of becoming an economic superpower of the world.
But an unfortunate incident caused an enormous jolt to these Indian dreams just then. The Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 and then the communal riots across the country started, which snowballed into an out of control situation. In March 1993, Bombay witnessed one of the worst terror attacks of the world by then. Serial bomb blasts took place on a Friday and hundreds of innocent people lost their lives. It shook entirely, not only the Bombay or the India but the whole world. These bombings were viewed as retaliation to Babri Masjid demolition. The riots in the country got further intensified and took the worst turn. The President of India used Article-356 of the Indian Constitution and dismissed four provincial governments on the account of their inabilities to act according to the constitution. The then U.P. government was also among those dismissed governments. Further, in Jammu and Kashmir province of the country, the insurgency was at its peak, thanks to Pakistan and some of the historical mistakes by the Indian government. Counter-insurgency operations were on and Army personals, militants and innocent people were being killed. The situation was bad not just only in India but it was no respite outside too. In retaliation to Babri Masjid demolition, the Indian and Hindu establishments in particular, were being targeted continuously across the globe and the conditions were more serious in Muslim dominated countries. The temples were demolished in large numbers and Hindu shops were looted and set ablaze in neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arab, Maldives and in some African Countries. The offices of Indian Companies were also targeted as in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the offices of Indian Airlines were set afire. Some news was coming also from the USA and Europe regarding temple vandalism. All these things were giving a very bad message to the world and portraying ugly image of this great country, India. The leading professors of the most prestigious universities across the globe were continuously criticizing India along with the top officials of many leading international organizations for the mosque destruction and its aftermath, the communal riots. It was natural that foreign investment got a big jolt.
2 years had been passed since Babri Masjid demolition. Communal riots had been also stopped. U.P. had witnessed Assembly Elections in which Shramshakti Party managed to secure maximum seats and with the help of some other parties, formed the government in the state. But the investment was not coming in the way it was expected. Southern states were attracting more investors. At this juncture when British I.T. giant 'Photon Infotech' announced an investment of Rs. 1000 Crores in Indian Market, it created a storm and every Indian state was trying its best to woo the I.T. company for investment. Somehow U.P. government emerged as a victor in this competition and convinced the I.T. major to establish an I.T. Knowledge Park in Rasoolpur Nindaura village of Akbarabad district. Some I.T. Parks was already in the progress in southern states but It would have been the first such project in North India and in U.P.
Now It was a major strategy of the company that It would invest only Rs. 700 Crores in that I.T. Park. With the rest of Rs. 300 Crores, it would enter into the real estate market of India, an emerging market, in partnership with a leading, trusted, and tested real estate developer of U.P. The most famous, experienced, and successful real estate company of U.P., Agarwal Infrastructures somehow managed to strike that deal. The owner of Agarwal Infrastructures was Mr. Nandan Agarwal, means son-in-law of Pathak Ji.
As the news of the proposed I.T. Park Project reached Rasoolpur Nindaura, the poor farmers started agitation against it. Nandan wanted to meet his father-in-law in this regard.
Around 11 at a morning, a bike arrived at Pathak Ji's residence. Vijay entered into their drawing-room where Pathak Ji was reading newspapers.
Vijay touched his feet “Pranaam Uncle Ji”.
Pathak Ji was pleasantly surprised and blessing him, He asked “Oh Vijay!...how you are here this morning?”
"Auntie Ji called me here for some chat ….I was going to Party office so I have come here." Vijay replied with a smile. Meanwhile, Rajini Devi arrived there and Vijay touched her feet "Pranaam Auntie Ji!!”
She blessed him and teased “Vijay, you have become hell busy now…..can you not meet me?” Pathak Ji was silently watching them.
Vijay sat on the sofa and said "No Auntie ji…there is no such thing…..I am always there for you. I had to go to the University a few days back, and yesterday I was in Meja. In the next few days, I am planning to go to Rasoolpur Nindaura."
“Yes I have read in newspapers….is some kind of farmer’s agitation on there?” Pathak Ji asked.
"I have heard it too…. I will go there and see." Then Vijay said to Rajini Devi "Yes, Auntie Ji, why you have called me?...what is the matter?" Rajini Devi smiled "I will tell you…there is definitely no hurry now…is it? Tell me first, will you have tea or coffee?"
Rajini Devi ordered a servant for 3 teas, 2 without sugar, and 1 with sugar.
Pathak Ji now eagerly watching his wife.
Rajini Devi started seriously "Vijay, you know all the things clearly, about our only son Vaibhav…..I want you please get him along with you. Get him along wherever you visit, whoever you meet…you please tell him how to develop connect with the masses. You make him understand the problems of farmers, the poor, the rural folk and how to solve them."
Vijay and Pathak Ji were looking at her. The servant meanwhile brought tea and put the 3 cups on the table, 2 sugar-free teas for old people, and another for Vijay.
Rajini Devi continued "I know Vijay it is improper to say this to you but it seems the only way out here. Vaibhav is not a school-going kid who is to be spoon-fed by someone…..but He is your elder brother Vijay….and it happens sometimes that elder brother is not capable as the younger brother, and He has to learn the skills from the latter.
Sipping tea, Vijay said "No Auntie….not at all!....you should not worry. If Vaibhav bhai agree and if he thinks so, he can be with us on this Nindaura trip….I personally want that he should be with us. If he considers it, we would be more than happy."
Vijay then pointed towards the telephone "Auntie Ji, please give that telephone…..I think I should dial him and ask him about it."
Rajini Devi extended the wired telephone up to Vijay. He dialed the telephone number of Viabhav's office. Some other person, might be a servant, picked the call "Hello?"
“Hello, this is Vijay from Party Office….is Vaibhav Bhai there?”
“No, Sir is not here.”
“Where is he?”
“Don’t know…he has gone somewhere without informing…..what is the matter? You tell me if there is any message, I will convey that to him.”
“No, nothing as such…you please tell him that Vijay called from Party office.”
"O.K.", and then the call was disconnected by Vijay. Pathak Ji again immersed himself in the newspaper.
Vijay stood up to leave "Auntie ji…you please convey this to Vaibhav Bhai….if he wants, we will go there together…..O.K. Auntie Ji, I am leaving now." He said with folded hands. Then He touched Pathak Ji's feet and left the room.
He was coming outside of the house when Geetika coincidently met him at the entrance. Her hands were full of many kinds of files and papers. Geetika greeted and teased him “As always… Vijay Babu is in a hurry. Right?......where you are rushing towards a dear friend? …it seems you have forgotten your old friends.”
“No…absolutely not madam!.....I always remember and admire you…..yes, we meet occasionally, because as you know…I am not a lawyer.” Vijay smiled and said.
Geetika laughed and asked, "So how are you here?"
"Nothing much….Actually, Auntie Ji called me for tea…and something was there to be chatted upon…..Well, I am leaving……..I am getting late for Party office."
They greeted each other and Geetika entered the house while Vijay started towards Party office on his bike.
A motorcycle was meandering on the roads of Mamfordganj area of the city. A bulky person was driving it with a cotton-towel on his face and black sunglasses. After passing through many narrow lanes and turns, that bike finally stopped near an old, ugly building. Some other neighbouring buildings were of that type too. People were not used to visit in that part of the otherwise very posh and prestigious area of Mamfordganj. That old and ugly building was actually a hotel without any name. After parking the bike in the stand, that bulky man reached near the reception counter inside the hotel. Without saying a word, he put a note of Rs. 500 on the table, after which the person at the counter dial some telephone number and said "He has come". Then he only said to that bulky person "two hundred one". Hearing this, that bulky man reached to the second floor through narrow, dim-lit and damped stairs. He arrived near room no. 201 and knocked on the door. A woman asked, "Who is this?" He replied in a bit anger "Its me….just open it" and the woman opened the door. He swiftly entered into the room and immediately bolted the door. Then he lifted the lady in his arms and started dancing with joy. That lady was too, laughing and saying " Hey!!...leave me…get me down….have you gone mad?” He then reached near the bed and throw her on it. Then he jumped upon her. He embraced the woman tightly and removed his cotton-towel and sunglasses and said gleefully “Chhaya, whenever I meet you, I feel free, and happy….I feel myself as the master of my own will”, and he showered her face with so many kisses. Chhaya said with a smile “Why Vaibhav?....in fact you are the master of your own will….whole Akbarabad know it,….who can check you?.....after all, you are the future MP of Akbarabad City Central.” Vaibhav responded with a frustration “No way Chhaya….What kind of MP?.....people do not know the reality. In that house, I am not more than a servant. I have to bear the continuous supervision of those oldies. I have to bear their fucking lectures continuously that do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that and all. I am hell tired of this kind of supervision in that house. I feel my own existence only in your arms.” Then he kissed her again. He laid himself beside her then and said “Yours is fine….there in no problem of dealing with oldies”. Chhaya smiled “No, there is an old man too in my house , but actually he is very active……most of the time, he remains outside. Vaibhav reacted “..and there is an old man in my house. He is now sitting idle at home as he is suffering from multiple diseases.” Then Chhaya said “Oldies are actually not a problem I think, the main problem is the husband and the child. In your case, it is pretty good that neither wife, nor children are living there, so you need not to worry. In my case, this is highly problematic. It is not an easy task to face husband’s nitty-gritty questions…..I have to deal it regularly…..I have a husband and a daughter. You think how difficult it would be to do.” Then Vaibhav laughed and said “Your husband is actually an ascetic….he always remains outside” and then both of them burst into a laughter and they became one.
That day Vaibhav returned to the home early in the evening and went into his room after dinner. Rajini Devi came into his room after almost an hour. The son looked at mother and stood up “Oh Mother!..why have you come here?..you would have called me instead.” Rajini Devi sat on the bed and said “No, there is something urgent to talk about, so I myself have come here.”
Vaibhav asked “tell me…what happened?”
“This is the problem…..that nothing is happening” ,an angry Rajini Devi said.
“What does it mean?”
“It means that you are not changing yourself…you are simply not seeing what is happening around…..and you don’t know how much it may be proven harmful for our family”
He was listening to her and not listening too.
"You are not getting that Lok Sabha elections are around the corner. Only 20 months are left. There is a very strong possibility that your father would not contest this time, so the City Central seat is on the target of many people. We want this seat to remain intact within our family….but it seems that you do not care at all…you are just running after the liquor, drugs and the flesh".
Vaibhav was silent.
“If you want to garner votes then you will have to go to the public and to present yourself as a noble man ,to present yourself as a man who cares for the masses and who works for them, even if you will be pretending such thing, you will have to do so….but you are running after other things. You always create nuisance and havoc across the city, on the name of your father…Just imagine if you would contest the elections, how would you ask for votes?”
Vaibhav was just listening.
“Many people are preparing for this seat…for example, that Vijay…that son of Krishna Babu. I have heard that the party’s leaders and workers like and support him so much and they want him to contest the election….and the worst is, many leaders and party workers like and support that rascal Geetika and want her to contest,….and your father is also thinking on this line.”
“How would Geetika get the seat?”
“You idiot….not just Geetika, there is Vijay also…..and why would Geetika not get it?...your deeds and your image is not such that you would get votes. People consider you just as a spoilt brat of a tall and rich leader. They perfectly know that you are a characterless person and a womanizer only. There is not a single evil remain outside of your body and mind.” Rajini Devi said this frustratingly.
“Then what should I do?” Vaibhav asked.
"Change yourself for a while….try to reform your image among the voters. You should give more time to the party's meetings, party's programs and events. You should visit the party office frequently and spend some time there. Try to increase your reach among the voters of the constituency of your father…..listen their problems and concerns….and you don't have much time for it…you have barely 18-20 months.
He was listening.
“…and most importantly, you should be with Vijay now. I am telling you to do exactly the same thing what Vijay has been doing for the last two or three years. If you involve yourself with him, only then you would get some idea how would you save this seat from the other contenders. I have already talked to him, He will go to Nindaura in next few days to meet farmers there….you would go there too with him. You will also meet to the farmers, listen to them….because they are the actual voters.”
Then She further explained “Look Vaibhav, your father have put in so much hard work and dedication in order to cultivate such political legacy, and that is for whom?....for you only. If you would not take it seriously ,then some outsider will come and snatch away this precious political capital…..some other person would enjoy the benefits of your father’s efforts…..so listen to me very carefully and take it seriously.”
Vaibahv agreed "O.K. Mother!...I will go to Nindaura with Vijay and will meet the farmers definitely." Rajini Devi saw his face and listened his voice ,and She was convinced that probably for the first time, Vaibhav was worrying about something.
“O.K. son!...I am leaving now…but please keep that thing in mind.”, She then kissed his forehead and left the room.
The national working committee’s meeting of Shramshakti Party had begun in Party Headquarter at Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi. Pathak ji, Krishna Babu, Ujjawal Singh and many other senior party leaders were sitting on the floor, on the heavy, comfortable mattresses and pillows. Other leaders were there in front of them on the other mattresses. Party workers and ticket aspirants were gathered outside in large numbers. Inside, a serious discussion was going on over political equations and aspirants for every seat. Many leaders also brought the list of their favourite candidates. A list war was on, as the lists were being presented as a counter to some other list. Every district, every Assembly segment, was under the scrutiny and even block level analysis was also being presented barring just one seat. Nobody was talking about that seat or in other words, nobody wanted to discuss about that seat. But how long?.....Finally Pathak ji himself asked, "Akbarabad City Central Lok Sabha seat…..now express your opinions." A pin-drop silence took place there in the room. After few minutes, Ujjawal Singh ji said "Pathak ji,…we will give our opinion only after knowing your opinion about the seat. If you will contest, then definitely it will be no opinion."
Leaders affirmed this silently. Then Pathak ji said "O.K., let us assume that I would not contest, then?" All the leaders again opted for pin-drop silence. Pathak ji was trying to assess the situation by reading their faces through his experienced and sharp eyes. He had received an enormous jolt by then. He hoped that by declaring his withdrawal, leader and workers would unanimously propose Vaibhav's name but here it was a chilling silence. Nobody wanted to forward his name as he did not have any support base in the party, but nobody also wanted to take the risk by forwarding some other name in front of Pathak ji, therefore it was a bloody silence.
A sharp and shrewd Pathak ji had got the pulse clearly. He said "please speak up!.....you people are the soldiers of this party, you are the foundation of this party…..it is the matter of the party's interest…..please speak. You were expressing your opinion on every seat, similarly, express your ideas about this seat too…..and remember, this is not the last and the final meeting of our national working committee, definitely we will meet many times before elections….so express yourself fearlessly." Some kind of humming started there in the room, to which Pathak ji responded "Not like this….please say anything quite clearly." And he again started to read their faces. Nobody spoke. Then He said "I am just saying that I will not contest elections, I am not saying that I am withdrawing from the party's affairs and activities." People were still silent.
Finally Pathak ji turned towards Krishna Babu and said “You speak Krishna Babu…they are thinking that I will punish them severely if they speak.”
Krishna Babu actually himself was trying to assess the circumstances, to read the mood in the party for his own son Vijay. He was also thinking what to speak. When Pathak ji asked him, everybody in the room looked up to Krishna Babu. In fact it was only he who could reply to Pathak ji. An expert politician Krishna Babu said diplomatically "If you are not contesting than I think we have two options. First is that we will field some youth leader like Vaibhav or Geetika from the City Central Lok Sabha seat. You have been consistently securing victory from that seat ….so it would be an easy ride to them." Krishna Babu cleverly avoided mentioning Vijay's name there. "…or secondly that we would field an experienced, trusted leader from that seat.”
Pathak ji again tried to read the faces there, but nobody responded.
Pathak ji asked, "O.K. , If Vaibhav would contest, then?”
The humming was started in the room again. Pathak ji reacted frustratingly “will somebody speak to me clearly here?”
Ujjawal Singh was getting that other leaders were fearing of Pathak ji, so he came forward “Actually….Pathak ji….it is some kind of unease and disagreement over Vaibhav….these leaders and workers are not expressing it because of your stature……but they are thinking that Vaibhav’s image among the public is not that good….it would not be easy to convince the voters,”
Pathak ji actually did not want to hear this statement, but at the end he had to digest it.
Another leader now said “Sir, if we would field Geetika ji or Vijay raj ji instead of Vaibhav ji, then we would get much benefit out of it. They both are very popular, in the party cadre and among the masses too. ”
Krishna Babu cleverly hid his feeling of joy.
Pathak ji again asked Krishna Babu “Yes Krishna Babu….what do you think?”
“I think that all these three leaders, Vijay, Geetika and Vaibhav too, they are very young and inexperienced and they are still not ready to shoulder the responsibilities of an MP. They actually need some more time, some more political training, and experience……thus they should be first given the charge of an MLA and some other organizational responsibilities, so that they can improve themselves and can develop the mental within themselves which is necessary for being an MP, till then some experienced party leader may be sent there as an MP, meanwhile these three would be under scrutiny regularly. It would be definitely beneficial for the party in the long term…. as all of us know that our leader….Pathak ji himself started from an Assembly seat, only then He is on the top now." Krishna Babu said this, addressing other party leaders in that room.
Pathak ji was looking at Krishna Babu and was trying to decipher the meaning of what he just said. Krishna Babu was waiting for the response of the other leaders.
The other people nodded. Pathak ji watched it and said "No clear-cut reaction is coming out" Then He asked them "any other opinion?". Nobody spoke. Then Pathak ji asked Krishna Babu and Ujjawal Singh "What type of organizational tasks they may be assigned to, in addition to the Assembly seat?" to which Ujjawal Singh reacted "Pathak ji , I personally think that one of them, preferably Geetika, should be given the charge of acting President of the Party, while the real decision-making power would remain in your hands. You will have to appear in the public too at a regular interval because without your backing and influence, these three will not be able to earn the trust of the masses.”
Krishna Babu also seconded him, and this time the other leaders too gave a clear response in the favour of it.
Pathak ji became a bit happy inside that the Party still trust only him for the future, and the Party President's post would remain within the family, but actually he was feeling very sad that Vaibahv was not considered even for the post of Party President.
His pain was increased further when a leader mustered some courage and said “Vijay raj ji may be appointed as the Vice-President of the Party along with the Chairmanship of the Party’s Election Campaign Committee. He has worked as the Vice President of the student union of Akbarabad University during his college days, and He is expert as far as the debate, discussion, knowledge and presentation are concerned.” All the leaders then affirmed it by raising their hands. This time, the response was much clearer. The long-cherished dream of Pathak ji had been destroyed completely. Vaibhav’s name was nowhere. It was enormous pain deep inside, but He did not allow his emotions to overpower himself.
Krishna Babu was too, happy inside. He secured a marginal but an important victory. He had the pain that He could not push Vijay’s name for the Lok Sabha seat. He himself proposed the idea of sending some seasoned politician into the Lok Sabha instead the young guns, without knowing that it would be approved by the party cadre. His smartness actually backfired. But He was happy as Vijay got the Vice-President post and the chairmanship of the party's election campaign committee which would be beneficial to him for his future endeavours plus he would also get significant media footage.
The meeting had been suspended for the lunch and Pathak ji came into his room of the Party HQ.
He was in deep trouble. The lunch had arrived by then in his room and he was sitting on the table there but he was thinking continuously. He did not wish to eat at all. His son actually had created a huge problem. Nobody wanted Vaibhav as the leader of the party. If he would impose his son over the party then a revolt, chaos might happen within the party. It would be detrimental for the party which he considered as his baby, and he put enormous efforts into it. If he would go by the party cadre then he and Rajini Devi would have to smother their long-cherished desires. No other way was out there. The Party cadre was supporting Geetika, that was not his prime concern. His major concern was Cadre's backing behind Vijay. He was looking at the writing on the wall that the time had come to clip the wings of Krishna Babu and Vijay, otherwise, the future would be bleak. He wished to chart out a course so that Vijay could be pushed back without harming the interest of the party and the sentiments of the party cadre. It was another problem that He could not discuss this issue with Krishna Babu too. Then he decided "if Vaibhav's name cannot be pushed forward, let it be….but Vijay’s march will have to be halted at this juncture, at any cost…..yes, I will definitely do this….it has to be done now.” Pathak ji made a firm decision during lunch and came out of his room for post-lunch session of the meeting.
Now some other issues were being discussed in the meeting, and the proceeding was being sped up. Pathak ji, Krishna Babu and Ujjawal singh ji had to come back to Akbarabad by Akbarabad Express that very night. The proposed official statement of the meeting was under consideration. After much deliberation, a consensus emerged there and as always, Pathak ji gave a blank white paper to Krishna Babu to draft the statement. Krishna Babu took it gleefully and became ready when all the leaders there in the room, were looking at Pathak ji. During that drafting Pathak ji was speaking "…in addition to aforementioned points, a discussion regarding Akbarabad City Central Lok Sabha seat was done too…” , and all the people presented in that room started listening carefully.
"…a consensus has emerged that the Party President Mr. Vindyeshwari Prasad Pathak ji would not contest next Lok Sabha election due to health reasons and an experienced party veteran, Mr. Ujjawal Singh ji who is currently MLA from Jhusi-Jagatpur Assembly seat, would contest on behalf of the party instead. It has also emerged from the meeting that popular youth leader of the party Mrs. Geetika Pathak ji would be appointed as the Acting President of the party, and in case of Assembly bi-poll, She would be fielded as the party candidate from Jhunsi-Jagatpur Aseembly constituency. Meanwhile, the founder President of the party Mr. V.P. Pathak ji would continue as the Party President and also will guide the party in all important decision-making process. The consensus was also there that the most popular, and capable youth leader of the party, Mr. Vijay Raj Mishra ji would be appointed as the head of the Party’s election campaign committee….”. Krishna Babu was happily writing all these things and was waiting for the announcement of Vijay’s appointment to the Vice-President post, but Pathak ji did not mention anything regarding it till last. Krishna Babu then became sad inside and his face was looking dejected. Pathak ji asked at last, just for a formality “is there anything that I missed?” to which nobody said anything. Pathak ji asked Krishna Babu for the written statement which he in turn, handed him over, though with a tinge of dejection. He only said “Ji bilkul theek hai (its perfectly fine)”. The way he hid his happiness earlier, he also managed to hide his dejection this time too. Pathak ji had shown his smartness.
Around 10 that morning, Vijay called at Pathak ji's residence, and Rajini Devi picked the call "Hello?"
"Hello, Auntie ji Pranaam!!....Its me Vijay from the party office."
“Yes dear, speak up.”
“We are leaving for Nindaura. Where is Vaibhav bhai?...I thought he would be there at home….therefore I called. If he is interested then , definitely He may accompany us….I am waiting here at the party office.”
“Oh Vijay, he has gone to the office…..listen to me, you please be there….I am calling him immediately…..wait for some time.”
Rajini Devi immediately dialled to Vaibhav's office but as always, some other person, might be a servant picked the call.
“Hello, this is Rajini Devi, Vaibhav’s mother. Where is he?”
“He has gone to somewhere madam and said that he will come back after one-and-half to two hours.”
Rajini Devi got the feeling that all of their efforts were going futile. She disconnected the call in frustration. Then She called at the party office and said to a servant there “convey this to Vijay that they should leave….Vaibhav will be unable to go there with them” , and She put the receiver down.
That night when Vaibhav came then Rajini Devi scolded him so much and argued with him bitterly in his room, but he was high on alcohol, he did not listen or understand anything.
Next morning around 6:30 AM, Akbarbad Express reached at the destination. Well before it, the news regarding Party meeting had already reached the city. Rajini Devi was feeling helpless and She was in deep trouble since the night. She did not have her dinner last night and remained sleepless throughout. Pathak ji entered into his home at 7:30. After the daily routine, he had some light breakfast and then he went into the bedroom for a sleep. Rajini Devi too had breakfast with him but She did not talk further. She only inquired about his health and his meeting with the doctor at the Safdarjung Hospital.
Pathak ji got up, a little before lunch. He came into the Drawing room, sat on the sofa and picked up a newspaper among the many in front of him. It was the headline in bold letters “Decisive changes in Shramshakti Party, Party would enter into the elections without V.P. Pathak.” Another newspaper was saying “Shramshakti Party has given big responsibilities to the youth brigade.” The third one was saying “RSP took a major leap, Geetika Pathak will be the Acting President, also to contest Assembly elections.”. So, Pathak ji observed that almost all the leading newspapers covered the meeting significantly. Rajini Devi had come there by then, and Her glum face was telling the whole story of her dejection. Pathak ji was also in the same zone but he managed his emotions quite well.
Pathak ji signalled her to sit and said seriously "Rajini, I tried my level best but it did not work. Nobody in the party wanted to see him. They think that it would be suicidal to give any responsibility to Vaibhav.”
She was silent.
He asked, "Did Vaibhav go to Ninadura with Vijay?"
Rajini Devi lost the patience and started sobbing.
Pathak ji then said in a low voice "Leave it Rajini, this is our fate, our destiny….we can't do anything about it."
Rajini Devi said “You could do definitely much more than that.”
Pathak ji was surprised “I could not….you were not there….I tried to put his name forward many times but every time, it was shunned. Nobody said anything, while they all supported to Vijay and Geetika by raising their hands. “
“Pathak ji, he is your son….your own blood….he is the future of the family.” Rajini Devi was very angry. “This party is yours Pathak ji!...It starts from you and it ends at you….You did not need to ask questions there in the party meeting, instead you should have issued direct orders….who was able to object there, in front of your stature? You have actually committed a hara-kiri ,a grave mistake Pathak ji.” Then She said after a few minutes “..and look, how successfully you managed an Assembly seat to that Geetika?...brilliant Pathak ji. A bad blood has been rewarded while you have backstabbed our own blood.”
Pathak ji became angry “What are you saying?....God knows, I threw my full weight behind my son Vaibahv but this rascal….he has been the same throughout these years….you see, he did not even go to Nindaura too. He has been doing these very things and he is destroying our family, and all our dreams. At least the Party is in our hands because of Geetika…..and this idiot, he cannot stand upon his feet even for half-an-hour. He is always high on liquor and drugs…..this rascal, characterless person!!”
Rajini Devi screamed “So what happened?....like father, like son…..father is characterless, so is the son. What is the surprise?.....he is exactly following his father’s footsteps.”
Pathak ji was very angry but he somehow controlled himself. Hearing Rajini Devi’s loud cry, some servant also came there. Pathak ji sent them back. Rajini Devi had gone to her bedroom by then.
Krishna Babu was having breakfast at his home with his son Vijay and daughter-in-law Chhaya. He was in a pensive mood and upset. Chhaya asked him “What happened Papa?”
“Nothing Beta….Pathak ji struck cleverly”.
The he told about the meeting to both of them.
Chhaya immediately said “I have already told him. Actually this is the basic character of this bloody, dirty politics.”
“I thought that Vijay would definitely get an Assembly constituency easily at least along with the Vice-President post, if not the City Central Lok Sabha seat. All people there, were agree with it. All things were going as per plan till the lunch…then I don’t know what transpired into his mind?”
Chhaya said “Its very simple Papa….Vaibhav would rise only at the cost of Vijay, so it became imperative to put Vijay down.”
Vijay smiled “Papa, you have been saying that it takes time to ascend in politics…so it is. Let it be. You said once that the adversities are the best friends, and they act like a furnace for a gold bar. Another aspect is there ,I have been appointed as the head of the Party’s election campaign committee so it would increase my activities and profile too. So, the party has given some responsibility and I will go by it. I don’t think much about the rest.”
"Have you just seen Papa?.....this is his approach since the beginning, therefore we are witnessing such situation". Chhaya interrupted.
Krishna Babu said “look Vijay, it is O.K. that you are doing some very good work with noble intentions…I am not objecting, but what He has done in that meeting, it is wrong. If you want to ascend upward, you should work hard. It is completely unfair that you are pulling somebody down in such a manner so that some other person may ascend upward. Vaibhav is good-for-nothing and everyone is aware of it but it does not mean that you would be treated like this.”
She interrupted again “I told him this very thing Papa, but he never listens to me.” Then She said “I think firmly that he must stop these trips like the last one to Nindaura, and all that…..the result is a big zero.”
Krishna Babu was silent.
Vijay said “I am not doing these trips for any reward from the party. I am doing this because it provides me internal satisfaction. We are eating here some nice food, right?....where it is coming from?...from those very fields….. We are about to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Indian independence…but the real architect, the farmers are still there in deep trouble, even after 50 years. Why?.....I just visit to those areas to understand their problems and issues and if I will be able to bring even some improvement in their lives, then it would be enough to me….and you know, it is not linked to the party. I would have been doing the same, had I been in some other party. It is a coincidence that I have a political background and my father is an MLA, and our party is in the power in this state….if you see, then due to this fact too, our responsibilities only increases.”
Chhaya was not getting the thing.
Krishna Babu then said it again "you are doing some very good work with noble intentions…I am not objecting, but you should keep a close watch on your surroundings…….you should keep your eyes and ears open. Chhaya is quite correct, you need not visit to Nindaura and all that…its useless." It was very clear that Krishna Babu was unhappy.
Vijay was surprised as it was probably the first time that Krishna Babu was restricting him, a thing which Krishna Babu had not done so far....