For 40 years, Suka Ram, as a safai karamchari for the New Delhi Municipal Council ensured that Lutyens' Delhi is kept litter-free. Six months ago, the septuagenarian was nominated to become a member of his erstwhile employer and assumed a position in the civic body that services an area that is home to almost all the Capital’s VIPs.
While he unabashedly admits his loyalties to the Congress party and specifically to former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, he also declared that it was the first time that any Group-D employee has held such a coveted position.
Yet, the presence of a brand new political party, especially one that celebrates the ‘aam aadmi’ much like his own beginnings hardly matters to him. “I became a Congress worker in 1952. I have worked for the party during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi’s time and more recently worked alongside Ms. Dikshit,” he says. “I will continue to support the Congress just like my father and grandfather had done.”
As an NDMC member, Mr. Suka Ram, shared the dais last week with his colleagues as the Council’s chairman Jalaj Srivastava presented the Budget allocations for the financial year. Each time he did not follow the rapid English, he turned towards fellow member I.A. Siddiqui (70) for a translation.
In fact, Mr. Siddiqui is his “unofficial” spokesperson at the Council meetings where Mr. Suka Ram raises issues concerning daily wagers. “I have always tried to raise labour issues especially regularisation of contract labourers,” he says, echoing the biggest challenge the Aam Aadmi Party had faced.
Mr. Suka Ram has been been privy to both the last leg of Ms. Dikshit’s regime and the “winds of change” that catapulted AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal to the post of Chief Minister and hence the head of the Council (now former CM). Both Mr. Suka Ram and Mr. Siddiqui’s positions as members of the Council may not be secure after all. Ground realities have changed after the resignation of the AAP government in the Capital.