I am old and near my end. The only wish I harbour is that the people of Muzaffarpur, my very own people, consider that this may be the last time I might be contesting... give me their shoulder when I finally breathe my last.
George Fernandes’s appeal for votes found their mark. Many who had gathered at Musahari — 10km from the district headquarters, the place where Jay Prakash Narain had worked to “bring back Naxalites into the mainstream” — had tears in their eyes.
Recalling Georgesaheb’s long association with the people of Muzaffarpur, septuagenarian Ramdev Pandey rued the act of junior JD(U) leaders such as Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar in denying the old warrior’s wish to contest the election this one time.
“You know me well, know that I have never ever compromised with undemocratic or fascist forces. I am here in Muzaffarpur today because I could not hold myself back when I realised my former colleagues have shamelessly shed any attempt at even pretending to be a democrat,” said Fernandes, who founded the JD(U) and then faced the ignominy of being thrown out of the party.
“Power has gone to their heads. They are autocrats, who in the days ahead, could well outdo even Indira Gandhi at the height of her powers during the Emergency.”
Sipping warm water from a flask that an aide kept handing him, Fernandes patiently explained the “real situation” in the state.
“Atrocities that are being heaped on the people every day are being conveniently overlooked by the Nitish Kumar government. This government thinks nothing about trampling the democratic rights of the people. There is widespread bureaucratic corruption, the spectre of casteism that we Socialists consider anathema, is being continuously fanned even as the divide between the rich and poor keeps growing.”
Earlier, at another meeting at Sheikhpura, former legislator from Aurai, Ganesh Yadav, and Ram Jeevan Singh, a minister till recently in the state government, stressed that the people of Muzaffarpur know well how to honour the elderly.
“People here have consistently voted for Georgesaheb since he first fought parliamentary elections from here in 1977. I would wish the constituency’s voters again bestow upon him their parting gift as this is definitely the last time he would be contesting a parliamentary election,” said Singh.