My barber, whom we call Masterji, is a psephologist caught in the wrong profession. Ever since I have known him, all his electoral predictions have turned out right. But as a voter, he has his own likes and dislikes. Being a Muslim living in Delhi for the past 43 years, he is not fond of the BJP – a feeling shared by his community in the walled city.
I remember a visit to his salon soon after the Kargil coffin scam broke and turned the heat on the then defence minister George Fernandes. Masterji was at his usual best criticising the BJP-led government at the centre. His audience nodded in agreement.
In September 2002, when blasts took place in Akshardham temple complex in Ahmedabad, deputy prime minister LK Advani blamed cross-border terrorism for the blast. “Kuchh bhi ho, Pakistan ko blame kar do. Ye party mein hi problem hai,” declared Masterji.
When armsgate occurred in March 2001, involving BJP president Bangaru Laxman, Masterji was quick to announce that the nation’s future was in wrong hands and that the best alternative was nothing but the Congress party.
Now, six years after it again came to power, the Congress party is facing one of its worst times in its 125-year-old history. It is raining scams. The party’s clean image has got a dent. It has a lot to answer to the citizens who brought it to power.
Going by the way Masterji criticised the BJP for its wrongdoings, it was natural for me to expect him to do the same to the Congress. After all, the party cannot absolve itself from any blame just because it managed to sell itself as a party of ‘aam aadmi’.
But now, I see the common man in Masterji is far from blaming the party for the fracas.
For every scam which happened in the current regime, he targeted the individuals involved.
Suresh Kalmadi made money in the Commonwealth Games 2010, a good part of which went to Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit, he said. Politicians in Maharashtra, present and former, used their positions to grab flats in Adarsh society. Shashi Tharoor got a stake in IPL Kochi team because his present wife Sunanda Pushkar had sweat equity in the team.
This is how Masterji sees it.
“Ye sharif badmash hain, aur woh khule badmash hain,” is how he puts it.
He is disappointed to find that the party known for its concern for his community people is earning a bad name. But the idea of casting his vote to another one has not yet occurred to him.