I recently met a budding politician. That meeting had around 20 members, conducted in a prviate house. They were all members of an association of a newly formed layout on the outskirts of Bangalore. This politician was elected to be a Gram Panchayat member in the recent elections. Meeting had two things on the agenda. One is, congratulating him on winning the election and the other, getting few petty things done from him for the layout.
This politician, probably in his 40’s, had a great physique. He looked like a granite rock rawly cut. Huge and strong skull, curly hair, bulky eyes, broad shoulders, solid arms gave him a scary look. But his talk was soft. Surprisingly for a politician, he knew his limits. He was able to explain how the Govt. and Panchayat work in simpler words. He talked to the point, quickly understood what was expected out of him in that meeting. He ordered his men to build a dump yard for collecting waste, promised to build flag hosting pole at his own expense, called up the responsible to repair the street lights and explained how a mud road fix does not help anyone and why it is better to demand for a tar road and who would help as it was beyond his limits. He distributed sweets along with his visiting card. He asked everyone to approach him for whatever things he is responsible for and he would also let the meeting attendees know if he needs any support. Favor reciprocation is an old formula in politics and the underworld. He did all of this in a matter of 20-30 minutes and then drove off in his Toyota Innova, probably to he next meeting.
He kicked off a few thoughts inside me and I am putting down few things I could notice from him. To be a politician, one should not be too sensitive. Everyone does not respond to the politician in the same manner or tone. Irrespective of that he has to treat all of them fairly in public. Else his image is at stake. He should have the knack to take the meetings under his control, to keep it short and fruitful. He should know the truth that society cares only those who win elections and those who lost are good as dogs. It can be a thankless job even for the purest soul. He should strive to promote himself for taking the credit for his good deeds. Else the opposition does it shamelessly. If you don’t eat Tiger does not mean Tiger will not eat you. A politician should know how to defend himself and his family from those who want to put an end to his career or life. If violence scares you, you are out in no time. A politician should know how to manipulate the human behavior. He should shout at some to get things done and be pleasing to few to keep things going. One weapon does not work for all. A politician dons hats of many roles, all at the same time. That of an actor moderating his stance throughout the day, as a psychologist in gauging the people and situation, as a marketer in shaping his image in the people’s eye, as a punter in protecting his interests and so on.
This also makes it clear why many good people do not get into politics, even when tried, they cannot go further. Many good people are sensitive. They cannot stand too much praise or insult. They promote themselves hardly. Even if some are able to overcome this behavior, they might not be in a situation to protect themselves and confront the violence. They are scared off by stronger forces at play. When these are not a problem for few, playing too many roles as a politician throughout the day can be really tiring. A slipped tongue in public or a small fight with the media can damage the image severely and quickly. Factors like this filter out the mass and leave little who are really cut out for politics.
Being a politician is really a hard job. Hope you would agree with me. As politicians would not read blogs, you won’t be one of them I guess.