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|February 16, 1998||
The gods of Shankaranand
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Chikkodi
A small house in Indira Nagar, Chikkodi. It's morning and there is a gathering outside. The people are waiting for their candidate, B Shankaranand, former Union minister, to put in an appearance.
He has been out of power for the last two years. But VIP habits never die. No one can enter the house, since the door is closed and a guard is protecting his sahib who, everyone is told, is in the bathroom.
Meantime, the son enters. The door opens, closes. The crowd suddenly becomes active. A group of three or four, disappears behind the closed door and comes out within five minutes. The sahib is still having a bath...
The game of closed door continues... and, finally, in enters the sahib, chanting mantras. Only to disappear behind another door.
Some activists start distributing small stickers. It is an appeal to vote for Shankaranand, with his photograph in the middle along with his symbol, hand. At one end is Sonia Gandhi and at the other Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. A perfect combination to get votes?
Suddenly a man appears from behind the closed door and starts distributing prasad. Anxious eyes search for the Congress leader's poojaghar. How will it be? Will it have pictures of Gautam Buddha? Or will it be Rama or Krishna?
It's a small make-shift poojaghar. There are three pictures on a table. A little prasad is kept before these, and essence sticks are burning... One is of Mahatma Gandhi, another of Indira Gandhi -- but overshadowing them, on top, is Laxmi: the goddess of wealth.
Ultimately, that is what matters in politics.
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