As George Fernandes struggles on with multiple late-life ailments, a 2009 report on his last, and pitifully poignant, election bid from Muzaffarpur in Bihar
He won a thunderous victory here thirty two years ago from behind the bars of Indira Gandhi’s jailhouse. He is whimpering to a sad end today behind the doors of his air-conditioned labyrinth. George Fernandes, gloried rebel of yore, lies chained in superannuated vainglory at the altar of his finest hour and nobody’s even noticing.
In 1977, he emblazoned Muzaffarpur on the national map with a searing slap to the Emergency. His posters — a manacled George, famed forelocks gnashing at the iron fencing — won him the seat, he didn’t even need to be here.
Today, nobody knows his address and everybody’s saying he needn’t be here. “Poor man, can’t even speak or stand,” says the doorman at the Meenakshi International Hotel, risen bang opposite the Muzaffarpur Railway Station, scene of many a rousing reception to George, “Pata nahin kya soojha.” (Don’t know what made him do this.)
The first floor lobby is abustle — the balustrades leading up heaped with marigolds, the stairs a scurry of people running up and down, the reception area itself rippling with excitement and squadrons of pellet-size mosquitoes. Can’t get a word in at the front desk, can’t find a seat to rest the exhaustions of the long and shoddy road from Bettiah. But none of that is about George Fernandes. It’s the onset of “lagan” — the wedding season — and the palaver is over brides and grooms and their respective parties; one set’s vacating, their tidings done, another’s waiting to move in. “Jaarje? Jaarje kaun?” asks the man across the reception when the enquiry about George finally gets through, “Kaun barat party mein hain sir?” (Which wedding party is he from sir?) Continue reading “Home They Brought The Warrior…”