I stood up for election when I was in the sixth grade. The election for class captain was a three-way race and out of 40 students, I received only four votes. The three other folks who voted for me were kind of my best friends. We all hung out together during class, after class, during lunch and dinner breaks and our beds were at the same corner as well. We shared the snacks our parents brought us during Saturdays. And then one day, the school banned outside snacks and only allowed us to get a packet of biscuit, instant noodles, and either orange or black balls once a week from the school. Our parent had to deposit cash and some of us did not have much cash in our account. But even one packet of Wai Wai was enough for four of us.
Today, my three amigos are in the three corners of the world. One lives in London, one in Sydney and one in California. Last time we had our ‘four votes’ reunion was in 2010. None of us were married then. Now, all of us are happily married and half of us have kids. If everything goes as planned then we will have our reunion next year.
The runner up received 10 and he was well known for being a studious person who never came second in class since the first grade. He was like our ‘Baburam’. Today, he is a doctor who is making dollars in the West. He didn’t do a PhD like our former prime minister. He is a medical doctor and he is a capitalist. I’m pretty sure he will not be going to any jungle when he comes back but will rather open a hospital, make some more money, and then only join politics.
The winner of my class captain election was the guy who promised a packet of Wai Wai and two orange balls each to all those who voted for him. I don’t know how he had planned to figure out who voted for him. Well, it was pretty simple. My three voters only hung out with me. And the top ten students probably voted for the runner up.
I did not promise anything to the voters. I just wanted to join the race to have fun. I thought it would be fun. After all, I was the guy who went through the list during swimming competition and entered my roll number in diving competitions where only two people had decided to participate. I knew I would at least bag the bronze medal. But in elections, no one really cares who comes second or third. The winner takes it all.
The guy who came second promised to request our class teacher for one more hour extra hour of comic reading after dinner. But no one believed him. How can a guy who does his homework twice for fun convince potential voters that he would encourage extra time for reading comics?
And now, many years later, the guy who became our class captain stood up for election to be one of our lawmakers from our province. He lost by tens of thousands of votes. Of course, winning the election for class captain is different from winning in the local, provincial, or even the federal elections.
Before the election, he came to visit me. We had become very good friends in high school. He had once asked me to deliver a box of chocolates to his crush who happened to live in my neighborhood. I had opened the box, ate like four packets of Dairy Milk, and delivered the rest to the girl. They got married a decade later. I hope she never asks him how many packets were there in the box that day ever or else I will be busted.
My ‘class captain’ was now a businessman who dealt with government contracts. Well, his father had a construction company and was what they call a ‘A’ class contractor. His uncle had a big trading firm. Another uncle was involved in providing rations to security agencies. Their whole family made tons of money proving goods and services to the government and its agencies. He certainly had the money to fight elections.
So where did he go wrong? Maybe, he would have won if he had promised something to the people in his constituency. Well, you can’t promise a packet of instant noodles and candies and if he did, he would probably be violating the election code of conduct. But who really cares about following the code anyway?
My friend received only a thousand or so votes while the person who won received more than twenty thousand. I told him that maybe he wanted to be like me, the guy who stood up for election just for fun. He must have spent at least thirty to forty lakhs of his own money for his election campaign. Maybe he just chose the wrong party.
Yes, his party has failed to win any seats in the federal parliament and will probably not get the required 3% vote to win any PR seat either. But that’s how life is. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but you must be really stupid or just have too much money to stand up for the elections and come last and waste enough money to at least build a nice community school somewhere in the village.
The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at email@example.com