This post has been written by Citizen Kavitta
The reason for us to be there: To get an interview of the CM. We were doing this story on the Commonwealth Games Village. A story about how the banks of the poor Yamuna are falling prey to the greed of some influential well-connected people. A story about how the fragile, ecologically sensitive river bed is getting consumed, first in the name of God with the Akshardham and now in the name of development with the Commonwealth Games Village.
Anybody who is a Somebody was there. That was the day when the palatial lawns of the CM's house were open to the Khaas Admi. The vote bank or the people who could generate the vote bank. Some 500-odd people; young and old, politicians and political aspirants, men and women, industrialists and beauticians. Hindu fanatics and Musalman Fundamentalists. We were the only two people there who were the actual aam admi.
But wasn't this the same CM that we had elected five years back? Why was she available to only a selected people and that too only on a special day? Why did it take us a week to get an interview that we wanted to air for the public? Why meeting the same CM – who we, the aam admi elected – an almost impossible task? We were not there out of choice. There was no commonality – except perhaps one – in all those were present. They all had the same desire: Madam ke pair choone hain. Madam ke saath photo khinchwana hai. Sole motive: Madam ko khush karna hai. (Have to touch madam’s feet. Have to get clicked with madam. Have to make madam happy.)
The party went on. Silver-haired men and women, children in all sizes, their mothers, everyone had this sudden pang, to touch the CM’s feet every time she came out of her Special Enclosure (The enclosure: A brilliantly white shamiana, with twinkling fairy lights meant for the special invitees, the 'more' influential and the 'more' powerful). The aroma of good biryani and tender kebabs filled the air. It took special security services to protect this space from the visiting throngs and visiting bats.
I was in awe. Wondering what was everybody up to. And why? I always knew that ‘this’ happened. I always knew that the pair choona policy was the only way the politics of this country functioned. To see any, especially this performance LIVE was a warped celestial experience. Big stars and small, the politicians, were performing: Continuous, uninterrupted performances with utmost brilliance. One star falling down to another's feet and rising; shining brighter with the I-am-suddenly-more-powerful look. This repeated, bending-double action lasted for over four hours.
Caught between the shooting stars and falling ones were us.
I tried to justify: We are a country with temples for film stars and the Chief Minister should them belong to more hallowed circles. She was our leader, our big GOD. She had the power to turn, immortalise other non-Gods into smaller gods when they touched her feet. I wondered: Could I be the next youth leader if I touched her feet enough enough number of times at such iftars? The concept of Parmeshwar suddenly became clearer.
Maybe this is a country progressing. From the days of black and white movies with their pallu-covered, milk-glass bearing woman, a sati-savitri, now we have a woman as our CM, our God. She is neither sati nor savitri. She is a woman in power and the men touch her feet instead. My head was in a mess: Wanting to accept, to ignore or just wanting to forget about the interview and run. But we couldn’t: This was the Chief Minister of Delhi. We had pitched really hard for this interview. We stay.
We stand in a corner quietly while the others are busy putting up this act. She notices, walks up to us almost five in the middle of the chaos and insists we eat. There are biryani and kebabs goddammit. She invites us inside the Special Enclosure. We insist each time we need the interview first.
After her second invitation to join in the enclosure, even the others started approaching us. Primarily to find out who we were and WHY their God was so interested in us. Others came, some just to drop in their visiting cards others with their visiting stories. One needed to talk about other politicians, another one wanted to show off his community initiative and the third wanted to report a scam being perpetrated by a man in a green kurta. Apparently, someone really big’s son.
People now start to bend double for us, this time with their hands folded in a namaste. Probably I was mistaken about being the Aam Admi. Probably after the politicians the media is God. Probably they could not tolerate my harem pants anymore.(hahahaha) Probably they are showing us the way out. No. They were inviting us to eat! I did understand it was another trick to please the CM. Impress people she talks to.
We got the interview. The CM nearly convinces us that Delhi, now a developed city is the best place in the world to say. Water problems were a thing of the past. The year 2010 will see a new face of Delhi, courtesy the Commonwealth Games. We eat in the white enclosure, food perhaps bought with the taxpayer’s money. My money. I enjoy and appreciate the biryani and her charm and hospitality work on me. The charisma of the woman who had for years been a mother, a home-maker and a true politician hits me in the face. I feel a sense of her power too.
I don’t want to think of the Yamuna, it’s still flowing, can’t we eat first? The aroma of power and food was intoxicating me. I felt part of some episode of Star Wars. Colleagues from rival channels were curious to know our special status to be sitting inside the special enclosure. Overfriendly people, sweet people, nice people, they were going out of their way to socialise with us. As we leave, the CM gives us a little bow and thanks us for coming. And oh my god, I am not the part of the crowd... I am the new God. I too was bitten by the power bug. Thank you madam ji aap ki kripa hai; ab hum bhi bhagwan hain. Charansparsh.