The Hari Putar Dialogues - 33
(NDTV; Press Trust of India; Jabalpur; 23 November: Issues like power and water rule the roost when it comes to elections, but voters in Sihora in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, accord priority to tackling the monkey menace in the tribal seat. Sihora Jagruk Manch President Amol Chourasia said that whenever a candidate contesting elections comes to their area, they ask him/her to drive the 6000-odd monkeys out of the area if he/she wants their votes. No candidate till date, he said, had given them a firm assurance.)
Putar: A PTI report carried on NDTV today states that the issues in the tribal seat of Sihora are very different from all other constituencies in the State.
Hari: That's interesting, Putar. Don't they want a regular supply of power, electricity, water, jobs, development etc like in other places?
Putar: I'm sure they want those things, but even more importantly they need someone who can evict the thousands of monkeys who are troubling them. That is their foremost priority.
Hari: Are you serious, Putar?
Putar: Absolutely. In most of the constituencies in this State, which has just gone for election, the candidates are making promises to the electorate as part of their campaign. In this tribal seat, the people are campaigning instead. For instance the following slogans are on the air in this tribal seat: Nahin chahiye bijli, pani, door karo bandar ki pareshani (We do not want power and water but want the monkey ousted) and Bandar bhagao, vote pao (Drive out the monkey and get votes).
Hari: What are the problems caused by these monkeys?
Putar: Monkeys snatch tiffin boxes from the children on their way to school.
Hari: That's very monkey like. I guess that's a nuisance.
Putar: Then they run away with clothes left to dry outside.
Hari: So far their offences appear to be minor.
Putar: They have committed more serious offences as well, Papaji. It appears that a number of persons have been bitten by these monkeys.
Hari: That is very serious.
Putar: A politician has to step in to play the role of the Pied Piper and promise to rid the town of the monkey menace. Do you remember the story about the Pied Piper?
Hari: I've forgotten, Putar.
Putar: There was a certain town that was plagued by rats. A man with a strange costume appeared promising to be a rat catcher, and agreed to get the town rid of the rats for a certain fee. He played a certain tune on his pipe and upon hearing it the rats all followed him to the sea. The town was rid of the rats but he didn't get the money. And then in revenge he played a different tune, and hearing this tune all the children started following him and they were never heard off again.
Hari: Well, in this case the story is the other way around. The politician has to make a promise before the election to get rid of the monkeys. If he fulfils the promise that is the end of the matter, but if he doesn't people need to find a way to punish him.
Putar: Politicians are making false promises all the time. They know that the people have no way to punish them ' till the next elections.
Hari: But tell me, can't the civic authorities catch the monkey, if they are such a menace?
Putar: According to the Sihora Jagruk Manch President Amol Chourasia the civic body did bring in monkey catchers. The monkeys were caught but the catchers then freed the animals in the nearby jungles. The monkeys were all back where in a day or two.
Hari: That was a wasted effort. What does Mr. Chourasia recommend should be done?
Putar: Chourasia has been quoted in the report as saying: "We want that these monkeys be sent to Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park. This problem must be solved for good,"
Hari: Sounds like a good idea.
Putar: Tell me something Papaji?
Hari: Bol, Putar?
Putar: The BJP has termed the Congress manifesto for the November 27 assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh as 'Dhoka Patra' (manifesto for deceiving people).
Hari: Why is that?
Putar: Ananth Kumar, BJP general secretary in-charge of MP says that the Congress had promised to provide unemployment allowance to the youths in the last general elections, but did not implement it yet.
Hari: Well, I'm sure that very many politicians from all the parties make promises that they don't subsequently fulfill. The MP elections will not be any different this time round.
Putar: It is all a scramble for power, isn't it? The vote is like a piece of bread that the politicians are fighting for.
Putar: Like monkeys.
Hari: I guess so, Putar.
Putar: So in Sihora the people will vote a politician into power who gets rid of the monkeys in their town.
Hari: That's indeed what they wish to do, but what is your point, Putar?
Putar: The people of Sihora are trying to get rid of six thousand dangerous monkeys. However they and the people from the other constituencies don't appear at all worried about some of the bigger monkeys who are standing for election. Don't you think that many of these other monkeys, though fewer in number are much more dangerous?
Hari: I don't know Putar.