Millennium Post

In wilderness of lost identity

J B Kriplani was once noticed to badly scold people for touching feet of politicians. He told people to do away with this practice otherwise politicians would become authoritarian.
Kriplani was a different kind of leader. Most leaders feel elated at being flanked by large crowds. In fact, leaders often feel lonely in the absence of visitors. The helplessness is extreme when popular politicians somewhat drift away from the outside world because of prolonged illness and being
confined to the bed in their house. Presently one can notice three such leaders. They are not able to understand the political situation, the way they used to discuss and process.

They are also not in a position to recognise people and rewind political events in context of changing the political scenario.
Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi is one of them. After the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital staff on
9 November 2011 advised his family to shift him to his residence as he could not be cured medically, he now remains confined to a room. Though Dasmunshi remains clinically non-functional, his heart continues to beat without any sign of recovery. Nobody is aware of the kind of trauma and helplessness being felt or not felt by him. His wife Deepa Dasmunshi, presently minister of state in the UPA government, might be trying to assess his internal pains. Dasmunshi got married to Deepa when he was 49. He won the Lok Sabha seat five times, starting in 1971 and remained active in the youth Congress. He was later elevated as an minister of state in 1985 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Dasmunshi, during his tenure as minister in UPA, had one massive stroke and consequently being admitted at AIIMS, followed by Apollo and later was moved to a hospital at Dusseldorf in Europe. At that time he underwent stem therapy which did not produce the desired results or any scope of recovery. Of now, he has been putting up in the bungalow allotted to his wife. Dasmunshi had once been the President of the All India Football Federation for nearly 20 years. He might be missing the golden moments of the game and political magic for which he was once known.

The second in this series is the fiery trade union leader and former Union Minister, George Fernandez. At 83 he is confined at the house of his estranged wife to spend his remaining life in the wilderness of lost identity. In January 2010, George got affected with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease. In his early days, he was sent to Bangalore to be trained as a priest where he could not find comfort. This brought him to Bombay where he was groomed as a seasoned socialist trade union leader. George came into limelight when he defeated S K Patil at Bombay South in 1967 Lok Sabha elections. He then went underground to resist emergency during 1975 and contested Lok Sabha election to score a big win from the Mujjafarpaur constituency, while being in jail due to his alleged involvement in Baroda Dynamite case. He deserted his saffron fellow members in the first non-Congress government at the Centre in 1979 on the issue of dual membership and later embraced the saffron BJP to become the NDA convenor during the Vajpyee regime.  Fernandez was criticised for his sympathies with the LTTE, Burmese separatists and the Tehelka exposure. A polyglot with mastery over 11 languages, it is left to ponder the anguish and helplessness he is going through.

The third leader is the Bhishm Pitamah of Indian politics, a liberal face of the so-called communal outfit and an excellent orator who dominated the political scenario continuously for five decades. The former Prime Minister Vajpayee is confined to his residence at Krishna Menon Marg in New Delhi for many years due to his prolonged illness. He had represented the Lucknow constituency in Lok Sabha from 1991 to 2009, a seat which he lost in a by-election in 1950s and subsequently won five times in a row. He contested and won from four different seats of four different states. During 1998 to 2004, he proved to be a cementing force among 24 constituents in the NDA. Vajpayee has not been in a habit of hitting every ball like other leaders of his party. Vajpayee’s statements never used to be in bad taste. Apart from this he never hesitated in cautioning his party fellows as he advised Gujarat CM to follow raj dharma. Immediately after demolition of the structure at Ayodhya he expressed his intention of quitting the party at the dusk of his political career.

The leader who made his niche at global arena might be facing a dilemma of his inability in understanding the complexities of politics and to advise his old trusted fellows. He is not even aware of the fact that his party has become a divided house.  Had Vajpayee been active today, his party’s unity would have certainly been in a different situation than what it is at present.  
The author is a communication consultant      

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