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The rise of Common Singh

chandigarh Updated: Dec 16, 2013 17:15 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times
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An email from a friend suggesting that my friend Common Singh’s voice had been finally heard in Delhi coincided with a knock on my door. On asking who it was, the reply sure enough was, “Sirji, Common Singh.”

“What is that you want now?” I asked him, since the commoner had caused much ruin in Delhi’s just-concluded assembly elections. Not only had he caused an upset, he had also dared to dream, even though the sole prerogative of deciding India’s fate was that of a dynasty and of a party whose foundation lay in religion. Sheila Auntie and Goyal chacha, I am told, have been very upset with this daring act of the ‘aam aadmi’. And the Sahibzada, I believe, has not stopped rolling his sleeve ever since the results beamed on his TV screen.

After all, the only thing expected of Common Singh was that he just go to the polling booth and use his finger to press a particular button. Raising his finger was never his right. But, look what the raising of the finger had done -- swept all the political honchos under the mat in one sweep and reduced auntie’s party to a strength that could fit in an eight-seater vehicle.

“Okay, come in, Common Singh,” I said, deciding to meet him.

Common Singh, to my utter surprise was not in his proverbial soiled and sweaty clothes, but was dressed in a newly bought shirt and trouser. His face looked fresh after a scrub and there was joy on his face.

“Why so much of tohr, Common Singh?” I asked.

“Sirji, it is for the first time in my life that I feel I have a voice in my country.”

“Is it? Why, what happened?” I asked.

“Sirji, the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi is a sign that people want a change from the way our country is run.”

“Yes. Changa chaaru pherya Delhi vich,” I replied.

“Sirji, this was bound to happen. How much more corruption will people bear? How much more injustice will we tolerate?”

“Yaar, Common Singh, you are talking big now, but in Punjab you rejected the PPP. Its leader Manpreet Singh Badal had given a similar call to oust the main political parties.”

“Sirji, a thousand apologies, but you are being ignorant here. Did you not listen to Arvind Kejriwal when he said that Aam Aadmi was born out of a struggle? Sirji, at some level, PPP’s birth was not of a revolution, but more out of a family feud. So, it will be incorrect to equate the two. PPP still has to struggle, but the seed of change has been sown in Delhi.”

“A very valid observation, Common Singh. And I thought such observations were the privilege of the media and armchair political observers like us.”

“Sirji, now the Congress and the SAD-BJP should also be worried.”

“Why should the SAD-BJP worry? They are rocking it. In Punjab, they are the aam aadmi’s voice. Look at the doles they are giving to the poor.”

“Oh, Sirji, politics of dole is out and over. It is nothing but a reflection of a feudal mindset. Look how Sonianomics flopped in Rajasthan. Punjab’s political class is also of a feudal mindset. It wants to be seen as doling things rather than empowering its people. Feudal mindset is anti prosperity and people have seen through it.”

“Oye Common Singh, you have suddenly gained spring in your step. But watch out, you Aam Aadmis.”
“Sirji, you are mistaken. Excepting the politician and the bureaucrat, everyone else is an aam aadmi. You suffer the same way as we do. Only the form is different. We die on the footpath, you in car crash. We die outside a hospital, you inside. You die drinking scotch, the others Benadryl. This is the only difference.”

Simply put, politics will have to change in this country. Or this country will change the politicians. Period.