The Red Colour – Gitanjali Maria

Theme: A young student, corruption in the college, joins politics to save country

For Vikram, it was yet another day in his newly joined college. He had reached the college sharp at 8:30 am, when the classes are supposed to start. But seeing that today too a bunk had been declared, he went to the library to spend a few hours there, reading the day’s news and browsing through some course books.

After a while, he went out to check whether classes had resumed. The librarian informed him that it was the college union elections that day and that classes had been suspended for the day. So Vikram continued his reading session in the library and was preparing to leave for home around 4:30 pm when a few seniors caught him and pushed him to the election booth to cast his vote.

Both the contesting parties in the election were almost with equal votes with just the last quarter of an hour to go. Vikram was the last in the queue to vote and seniors from both the parties tried to cajole and threaten him to vote for their respective parties. Vikram, with no interest in politics desperately tried to find a way out to escape from casting the vote.

Inside the voting booth, he was given the ballot paper. There were two columns, one with a blue flag and the other with a red one. He neither knew the candidates nor what each of the parties stood for. He contemplated for a long time, thinking hard, on which box to draw the tick mark. After a deep sigh, he finally voted on the upper box, against the blue colour. As he came out of the booth and stopped by to get his finger inked, the siren rang signally the end of the voting process.

In the counting that followed the blue party emerged victorious.

But, ironically, Vikram enrolled himself for the red party, when all the fresh men were forced to join either of the parties.

Though initially uninterested in political activities, out of compulsion he was made to attend party meetings and rallies. Though he despised the violence that his party men and friends in the party restored to, he had an inclination towards the pro-poor and developmental ideologies of the party. He supported the view of inclusive growth and investment in sectors other than agriculture for future development. He thought that he should be able to contribute to the society through the party and its mechanisms.

He worked at the grass root levels and spent a considerable amount of time and energy for his party and it initiatives. Though he never participated in ‘hartals’ and ‘bandhs’ called for by the party, he was actively involved in all the rural development initiatives by the party as also its mass movement programmes. He was made the secretary of the Community welfare and People Connect initiatives of the party when in his final year of graduation. Though he never stood for college or public elections, he was a face common to people in the locality and a person whom they could approach for any help needed.

He graduated from college and contrary to his parents’ wishes, plunged himself into full time active politics. The harsh truths of politics were slowly revealed to him. He was a party worker without much political ambitions. His sole wish was to serve the land and its citizens and his focus never wavered, neither in front of money nor power. He became the face of the party because of his popularity with the masses.

After much infighting within the many divisions of the party, he was finally chosen to contest the elections for the state assembly. And the seat was won with a huge margin. This scripted the start of another era in Vikram’s public life.

As a person with experience working at the grass root levels he very well understood the requirements of the state and its people. Under his able administration he continued to bring development initiatives to his constituency. He specially encouraged farmers to adopt modern yet eco-friendly techniques of cultivation. He also created new jobs by inviting many industries to set up their base in the district and also by promoting entrepreneurship and lending a helping hand to small and cottage industries. He used to go on visits to personally learn of people’s problems. He was loved by the masses who adored him like a demi-god.

People were already supporting his candidature for chief minister-ship but certain voices within the party, jealous of his popularity were against him. Some of his own friends, who had inducted him into the party during the early years went ahead to garner support against him. They claimed that his policies and rules were neither helping the party nor the party men. They accused him of conspiring against the party to achieve his selfish ends.

Vikram, though pained by such allegations, chose to ignore them and continued doing his duty with utmost sincerity. He participated in the assembly sessions regularly and without fear and irrespective of party lines questioned corruption and inaction. And what politics had presented him with was many enemies within and outside the party.

The assembly elections were nearing and the red party was sure of a defeat if Vikram was not projected as their chief minister candidate. Some voices within the party said, “If Vikram becomes the chief minister, we won’t be able to continue our (illegal) trade across the border.”

He’ll dig up all the old criminal cases and many of us will be left behind bars.”

The flow of cash into our pockets will be reduced.” “But we can’t win without him.”

Some body suggested, “Why don’t we just finish him off and put the blame on the Blue party. Many there also hate him. And in the sympathy wave, we can hope to win.”

There were murmurs of approval, of doubt and of agreement.

As his red blood soaked the soil he loved, Vikram breathed his last, hacked to death by unidentified goons. The land had lost its beloved son, its brave crusader and it wept inconsolably.

Red flags were paraded high, amidst bursting of crackers and distribution of sweets as the Reds were voted to power again, riding on the red blood soaked memory of the slain worker, who was forgotten by the party amidst the deafening noise of the crackers.

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