The first encounter with politics came as a shocker for Harish Chandra, a 1974-batch IAS officer.
At a time when Chandra wanted to follow the ideology of socialism for a better Uttar Pradesh, he came across the politics of “give-and-take”.
“The world and its people had changed. The people, whom I fought for, asked me what would they get if they voted to my party,” says the bureaucrat-turned-politician, who is now touching 70.
Hailing from Mau in eastern UP, Harish Chandra turned an activist after joining Allahabad University for post-graduation where he stayed at Hall B hostel. “Circumstances made me an IAS officer but I have always worked for the oppressed class and never compromised with the rule of law,” he says.
His journey as a bureaucrat was full of ups and downs where his longest spell when he was kept in waiting (an officer without any charge) was close to a year.
His posting at the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) in the last three years of his service was his most successful stint. “After retirement, I floated the Rashtriya Janwadi Party (Krantikari) hoping to take forward social democracy and development through politics,” says Chandra who was transferred for 40 times in 33 years of service.
Chandra’s political dream took shape during 2009 Lok Sabha election where he contested from his home town. “I saw the real face of politics during the election,” he remarks.
Those who praised Chandra as an officer did the same on his face when he informed them about his new role as a politician. However, there were not enough votes for him. “I contested twice in Lok Sabha election but lost deposit,” he says.
People praised him as an officer, but as a politician, voters demanded instant returns. The reality of money and muscle power and false promises dawned upon him. “I tried not to cross the Election Commission’s limit for expenditure but candidates who got elected spent crores of rupees,” he says.
On his experience as a politician, Chandra says, “Had I known the real face of politics before floating the party, I would have stayed away from it.”
Asked if there should be a mandatory cooling off period for bureaucrats after retirement before they join politics, he says, “There is no point in this. If an officer is about to join a private company there should be a gap so that he may not favour the company with his connections. But politics is not a private job.”
Chandra is yet to plan for the 2017 assembly polls.