What They Mean...
Where can you get a cab driver who knows all the politicians of his city including their yesmen, who can actually "arrange appointments" with them and can speak fluently in English, French, Russian and Korean besides the local Bundeli dialect? Samir Khan, who runs a cab service in Jhansi can do all of this and more. When not offering his views on politics, or hard-selling Bundelkhand as a tourist destination, he speaks of the ills that plague his region and blames not the policies, but the implementation —or the lack of it.
Khan says his household numbering 180 members will vote for the BJP this time because they are convinced that the party can actually develop the region, despite the communal politics it preaches. "Once they come to power they will behave responsibly," he says. This coming after a fiery speech by BJP's enfant terrible, Vinay Katiyar, makes little sense to me. But Khan says, people don't really mean what they say during elections.
Missing The Son
He walks in with a swagger of a king, followed by a train of attendants. The wealth of Birendra Singh Bundela fighting on a Congress ticket from the extremely backward Lalitpur district would put the district to shame as it battles backwardness and poverty. People here whisper about how the absence of his son, Sanju Raja is affecting the father. Shot dead seven years ago, in a "gangster brawl" Sanju Raja appears to have been a desi robin hood of sorts. Wielding the gun and ensuring that there was no alternative to his brand of politics, the son appears to have struck terror in the hearts of rivals.
Who Wants Bundelkhand?
Who wants a Bundelkhand state now? Besides actor turned politician Raja Bundela, no one in the region connects with the issue anymore. For Bundela, Bundelkhand is the plank for survival. The SP doesn't want a separate state. The BJP is ambivalent though, in a belated move, Uma Bharati contesting from Charkhari constituency, has been making some reassuring noises. Chief Minister Mayawati committed herself to a division of the largely mismanaged state. But her promise doesn't include large swathes of Madhya Pradesh in which half of Bundelkhand falls. For the people, it seems a little state makes little sense. For the Congress the reasoning seems to be: "Well, who needs another state?"