Gathbandhan

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It was not looking good. Not good at all.

These guys were winning and winning and winning. North, West, Some parts of South and now the east as well! They were in power, and power gave them new friends everywhere. I mean, winning in the east! That takes some doing. He remembered the last elections in the state. They were almost wiped clean. If it weren’t for the family bastions, they would have been staring at a blank slate. Some how, they managed those few seats. After that, it had been all downhill.

He was worried. He had put together the party with a lot of effort. To see it slip away like that in his lifetime – was a very unpleasant thought. They had tried engineering a radical confrontation story in the elections – him vs his son. Unfortunately, people did not buy it. And even though they still lost, the time seemed right and the reign passed over to his son. But of course, his son loved him and he still banked on him for all important advise. As he saw his son’s car drive into the porch, he remembered his sms from a few hours back.

I have an idea. Let’s discuss in the evening.

His son left about 4 hours later. It was deep into the night as he lay down to rest and he felt tired and drained. When he heard the idea for the first time, he rejected it outright.

“If we do this, there is no turning back.” he said. “All our caste calculations, alliances, funding – we will be putting everything at risk. No, No. It’s too much of a risk.”

“But Pitaji, if we don’t do this – we are in danger of being wiped clean” said his son “At least, this is a chance. It’s a big chance, I agree but if we make this work – the possibilities are endless. Look at what happened in Bihar. Why can’t we do it here?”

Beta, Bihar is different. And who knows it better than me. I have a long history with that place. I mean in a way, we all started from there. What worked there, will not work here.”

“Maybe not for the whole state elections, but we are talking about 2 seats only. But these are 2 really important seats and if we win, then the possibilities are endless.”

“I agree, but it’s too much of a risk beta. And that lady? Can you work with her? I don’t like her at all.”

“As much as we dislike her, you have to give credit where it’s due. She has been able to build and maintain her party. And she has defeated us in the past. If we think we are capable, then she is capable too”

A few other senior folks had also joined in for their meeting.

“What do you all think?” he asked them. Their answers ranged from no-go to a must-go, with most of them highlighting that the party was already at an edge. If there is no win on the horizon, then by the next elections they would be gone.

“So we really don’t have any other option do we?”

“We can go alone, but our chances of winning will drastically reduce. If we come together, then we consolidate our votes and can surely win.”

“And is it going to be our candidate or theirs?”

“Candidate will be ours for these elections. Both sides will spend the required money. But then in the state elections we will have to give up some ground. Maybe more seats, more money from our side then.”

“Have you spoken to her about this?”

“Yes. She is ok – in principle. But I told her we will go ahead only if you agree.”

He took a deep breath. “All these years, we have fought against her. Maligned her. Said what not. And now we just become partners with her party? What will the public think of us?”

“It does not matter. We will be a magnet for everyone who wants to vote against them. And that’s all we need. Those who think adversely about us, can vote for them. Think about it” said his son, warmly squeezing his hand.

As he stood on his porch seeing his son and his colleagues drive away, he was torn between conflicting thoughts.

I’m getting too old for this, he thought to himself.

Practically and logically, the idea made a lot of sense. Symbolically too. But emotionally and ethically, it was a disaster. Torn between the heart and the mind, he mulled over the pros and cons early into the morning. He wasn’t able to sleep a wink but he had finally come to a decision. Sighing deeply, he picked up the phone to call his son.

2 hours later, a press conference was called to make an “important” announcement.

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