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|February 24, 1998||
'Isn't dynastic rule another kind of dictatorship?'
Dattatray Desai, 58, taxi driver, Belgaum, Karnataka
I am a retired military soldier. I joined the Maratha Regiment in 1957 and retired as a subedar in 1985. I have fought for this country and have participated in the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971.
My father owned a fruit shop in the Maratha Regiment centre in the military cantonment area in Belgaum. When I returned home after retirement, I applied for and was given a contract for the fruit shop my father was running. I was very happy till then.
But suddenly, after seven years, they took away my shop. The civilian baniyas still continue with their shops in the military centres, while ex-serviceman are thrown on the roads. I literally started selling fruits on the streets of Belgaum. Now my sons are running the same business on the streets while I drive this taxi.
I was deeply hurt when I came to know why I was thrown on the roads by "my people". The army has become a business today. I did not have enough money to pay to the big bosses in the army. The baniyas had it. So, obviously, they preferred baniyas to the ex-serviceman. It's the reward I got for my 28 years of service to the nation.
A similar thing they have done in the cantonment area of our city. Around eight to 10 poor people used to sell candles, incense sticks, flowers, coconuts, etc in the temple area. All of them have been whisked away from there. Now the army sells these stuff. Is the army meant for business or to protect our country and its people?
That is why I do not get surprised when I am told that they sell secret files to our enemies. They will do anything for money. They have no love for the nation. I hate them.
I wanted to contest elections at that time, not to win it but to tell people the truth. But even that is a money game. The politicians buy votes with money and then recover it after coming to power. They also make enough money for their future generations. Even they do not love this country.
The main problem today in our country is lack of national feeling. We have given chance to everybody, the Congress, the Janata Dal, the regional parties, and tested their national feelings. They have proved that they don't have it.
Let us now give one chance to the BJP. I don't support the BJP as such. But they talk of Hindutva and the nation, national culture, etc. It is a disciplined party. It appears that they love India more than others. We have to give them a chance. What option do we have otherwise?
Is any other leader left worth respecting? Who is this Sonia Gandhi? Suddenly she has emerged as the leader. Who is she to apologise on behalf of the Congress party? I don't respect such apologies. If the Congress really felt it, then leaders like Sitaram Kesri, Narasimha Rao or Sharad Pawar should have apologised.
Not because she is a foreigner. I don't believe in that. She is an Indian. But this is our weakness. The kings and queens vanished long ago, but this kind of kingdoms and dynasties still exist in our country. Isn't it another kind of dictatorship?
What we require today is education. Education will tell us what is real democracy. Education will tell us what is the nation. Education will tell us what is the national feeling. I hope the BJP does it once they come to power.
As told to Sandesh Prabhudesai.
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