“But Ma’am, actually Lalu is also very smart, but people don’t realize it,” says my student – let’s call him XZY (and the Y is significant as you’ll realize by the end of this piece).
I teach a subject called Pharmacognosy that deals with plant-based medicines. I’ve been explaining about Ayurveda and how the world today is again waking up to its value. In passing, I mention about how Yoga too is gaining visibility thanks to the International Yoga Day that has been initiated by our PM Narendra Modi, who is smart enough to recognize its value.
It is to this statement that my student XZY has responded with his opinion about an earthy politician from Bihar. I acknowledge his opinion and move on with Ayurveda because politics is out-of-syllabus – after all, I’m not a prof at JNU! It is September 2015, a month before the Bihar elections that saw the Mahagatbandhan sweep to power. Busy with the academic schedule, neither I nor XZY have the time to discuss Lalu’s reversed fortunes.
“Ma’am, my family is into politics in Uttar Pradesh. One of my relatives is a Samajwadi Party candidate and I’m going to campaign for him in the 2017 elections,” says XZY to me. We’re outside the classroom, in a hospital actually, where I’m visiting a student who developed sudden, severe, debilitating back pain. It is January 2016. XZY tells me he’s going to get into politics after a few years, and we talk about general aspects of how it’s going to be a challenge, but he is determined. I advice him that no matter which party he chooses, he must never lose sight of the fact that he should serve the people. It is February 2016.
XZY completes his course and leaves the college in July 2016. He keeps in touch with me through an occasional message on Whatsapp.
“Ma’am, UP mein bahut drama chal rahaa hai!” is XZY’s first statement after wishing me a Happy New Year on Jan 1st, 2017. It’s been a few days since the much-publicized spat and making-up between Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. I ask him how his campaigning for SP is going on and he lobs the equivalent of a bomb at me, “Ma’am, we’re supporting Bharatiya Janata Party!”
Flabbergasted, I ask what happened to cause this shifting of loyalties. He tells me about how although Akhilesh Yadav has good intentions, he hasn’t been able to act on them. There’s quite some concern about appeasement politics too. And the youth all over the state are firmly behind Modi ji. XZY’s family has received feelers from local BJP leaders for putting up a candidate under their flag and they’re in the middle of finalizing the issue. I wish him luck and say goodbye, but not before realizing he’s been singing the PM’s praises for quite a few minutes.
In the last week of February 2017, XZY texts me, “Ma’am, some people are saying that Akhilesh is coming back to power, I’m worried.” I think I detect a mild desperation and try to buoy him up saying, “It’s OK, let’s wait…there are two more phases of voting to go.”
On March 11, 2017, I rush from the classroom to the staffroom to catch up with the election results pouring in. Within minutes, I have a text from XZY, exulting in the fact that the lotus has well-and-truly bloomed in UP.
One week later, at around 7 pm, I’m alternating between news channels, WhatsApp and Twitter to make sense of who actually is the UP CM-designate. Predictably, I receive a message from XZY saying, “Ma’am, UP mein Yogi Yug start.” I say I’m glad to know that and ask how he is feeling about it. I needn’t have bothered with the caution, because XZY is throwing it to the winds, telling me he is very happy about the news and that he’s planning to join the RSS because he wants to serve the nation. I tell XZY that I’m going to be waiting eagerly for the day when he becomes an MLA or MP. Immediately, he recoils, “No, Ma’am….I don’t want to be MLA or MP…all I want is to serve the nation!!”
Remember, at the beginning of this article, I said the ‘Y’ in this guy’s name is important? It stands for ‘Yadav’ the community that political pundits opine, transferred its vote from its namesakes in the SP to the BJP. This watershed assembly election in the largest state of the country is bound to pave the way for change. To me, one of the best things it has done is make one young man (and perhaps, several others like him) aspire to move from being merely a Yadav towards becoming a yogi who wants to work for the betterment of Bharat.
To see the magnitude of the mandate, check this out !