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January 27, 1998


''Only if the Congress comes to power will we have a government which lasts five full years''

Bhoopalan, tea shop owner, Sriperumbudur

I hate all politicians. They are all interested only in themselves. They want to become rich. Not a single party or politician cares about the poor. They don't want to listen to our woes. All they want is to utilise the time they are in power to make their purses fatter. I am disgusted.

When amma (Indira Gandhi) was ruling things were much better. Even during Rajiv Gandhi's time we were better off. But in the last few years, things have gone so bad that I feel frightened. I have voted only for the Congress all these years. But this time I am not sure whom I will vote for. I cannot make up my mind as I do not like any of them. But I have faith in the (Gandhi) family. I know they will not loot the poor because they are very rich. Why do they need our money? They are quite unlike all other politicians.

When Rajiv Gandhi died, I was in another village. All of us felt very bad because he died here, in our Tamil Nadu. He was young, he looked good and he was honest. I think God does not want good people to live for long. When we saw a lot of tourists coming to see the place where he was assassinated, we understood that there was scope for business here. So I left my village and settled down here at my mother-in-law's place. Soon we started this tea stall.

Just look at the crowd. On days like this we have great business. I am glad I took the decision to leave my village and come over. You must have seen the place earlier. There was hardly anything near the memorial. Now all those who pass get down here and have a look at the place. Naturally, many of them come here for a cup of tea.

For the last few days, everybody over here was talking about this amma's (Sonia Gandhi's) visit. We knew somebody important was coming when we saw so many policemen around... No, I did not go to see her. If I leave my tea stall and go there, my business will suffer. And my business is more important to me than a glimpse of her.

My friends tell me there were not many people to see her. I did not expect a big crowd. She took the decision very late... yes, very, very late. I don't think anybody will vote for the Congress just because this amma campaigns. Nobody respects the Congress now. It is a very corrupt party. I read about all their activities in the paper. All those leaders forced her to campaign for the party. Do you think they want to rejuvenate the party? No. They are using this amma as they know that we respect her. After all, she is Rajiv Gandhi's widow.

Here people say that if this amma comes to power, things will improve, prices of essential commodities will come down and all that. I am not very sure about it. One thing I can say: we will have a government which lasts five full years only if the Congress comes to power. Whether they do right or wrong, whether they loot us or not, they will be there for five years.

People get tired of going to polls quite often. That is why everybody says it will be better if we vote for the Congress. Anyway, this amma is not going to make any difference as she came in very late. She would have stayed home happily. But those power hungry people dragged her out.

These days so many people are talking about the Bharatiya Janata Party. I think they will come to power this time. I don't mind them ruling if they can be there for five full years.

One thing all of us have to seriously think about is, should we vote for a foreigner? Yes, this amma is a foreigner. I feel that we have to think of our people first. Outsiders should come only next. When we have so many of our countrymen here, we should first see how they are. Only then should we think of voting for a foreigner.

As told to Shobha Warrier.

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