Aflatoon, a former firebrand student leader of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and grandson of Mahadev Desai, a personal assistant to Mahatma Gandhi, is the candidate of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, a socialist group, in Varanasi Cantonment Assembly seat.
His campaign is being managed by supporters, friends and members of the Parishad who organize streetcorner meetings in the narrow, congested lanes of this city. They are impromptu affairs: a few chairs and a raised platform with a banner, a mike and loudspeaker. Curious onlookers stop but appear confused. “Kya Kahoon Kaise Kahoon, Kuch Kah Nahi Sakta. Na Kahoon, Kayar Banoo, Aisa Ho Nahi Sakta'' (I cannot say anything but cannot remain a coward by not saying anything). This couplet is recited by street vendor Tejbali at a corner meeting at Assi Ghat. He also happens to be Varanasi district unit head of the Jan Parishad.
Another speaker, Saleem Shivalvi, asks why the print and media ignores candidates like Aflatoon who takes up the causes of the common man. “Kushmehak Kalamkar kalam bech rahe hain, Yaro alambardar alam bech rahe hain, Granthi ho, padri ho, namazi ya pujari, damari ke liye deeno dharam bech rahe hain. Saamane watan ab mehfooz nahi hain, Neta ise kha kha ke kasam bech rahe hain.'' (The meaning and gist provided by him goes like this: powerful writing of media is up for sale, religion is being sold by religious figures, the country is not safe as leaders are selling it too)
Yet another Samajwadi Jan Parishad member, a woman lawyer, delivers a robust speech and recites poetry of Gorakh Pandey, a well known poet of the eastern belt. Aflatoon himself makes a short and crisp speech, exhorting people to wake up to the designs of governments at the Centre and States.
Keywords: UP assembly polls