George and handcuff factor
In 1977 there was an angry young man. He wore a denim shirt and jeans, carried a jhola and his hands were in chains. A photograph taken then, outside Tis Hazari court, was all the campaign material required to catapult him to victory.
Today, in a grey kurta and white pyjama, George Fernandes is a few months shy of 74. But in Muzaffarpur, there is no dearth of people who still have — and show him — newspaper cuttings of that photograph.
This is a different type of campaign. The pulse in the area is such that the candidate may end up offending people if he asks for votes. In virtually every village he visits, there is at least one person who tells him a story from 1977: “I worked two hours extra daily to raise funds for your campaign”; “I sold utensils from my house”; “I walked miles in the heat with your photograph in hand to ask for votes for you”.
One woman, who can barely speak, crosses her hands in front of her body to mimic the fetters and just manages to utter the word zanjeer.
When he talks to people, it’s like a family scene — uncle telling nieces and nephews stories of his youth.
So has the campaigning worn him? Hardly. “I work 20 hours a day. If you love your work you’ll never get tired,” he says.