DailyPost 1801

The nondescript primary element of the Indian political and governing community has never been the recipient of limelight, which so naturally falls on its senior members. The oft quoted statement we have been hearing since ages is; ”I am a foot soldier of the party and I will do what the leadership decides.” Who are these foot soldiers, what do they do, where do they come from and what are the prospects they have or dream of. Once you are a foot soldier you don’t talk about your existence, when you move to the higher echelons of a political party and through it, the government, you tend to eulogize it. The political hinterland can be a fascinating study. It provides the democratic magic of being connected to the ground, the grassroots leader as they are euphemistically described.
The right starting point to understand the core human resource of the Indian political system, would be to understand what his role is. It would also explain why the leaders have to go back to them and keep them in good humor. First and foremost, he is the primary connection with the voter, the fuel of any political existence. Election campaigning is the most sacred exercise for any leader or political party, and he is the boot on the ground. He is there for months together, leaving whatever might be his preoccupation; running errands of the type which needs no elaboration here. He does all activities from putting up banners and arches, creating a rousing welcome, ferrying voters, arranging crowds, campaigning in every nook and corner and reaching out to every voter.
All known election related nefarious activities also have to be taken care of. Most importantly, he has to ensure that the voters reach the polling booth and hopefully cast votes as desired. Given the political climate, they are also ready for violence, if required and get embroiled in criminal cases. There is no known, fixed or technically remuneration to be paid to them. They are also political intelligence men. Election is like a war, in peace time also he has lots of duties. Political activities need to happen all throughout the year, at the taluk, subdivision, district, and state levels, different parties are always involved in some activity or the other. Meetings, protests, and processions famously called Yatras dot the political calendar.
Political worker remains an undefined entity either in the legal statutes or even the party statutes. The duties, perks, conduct, hierarchy all remain undecided for this non- remunerated class. Still the bandwagon grows. Most of the leaders have gone through this grind. What they extract out of the political system is left to your imagination. They love to be as close to leaders as leaders want to be with them. *Proximity is both power and influence and more. Leaders feel most comfortable with them and at the fall of a hat they come to the leader’s rescue. Its time we define this element, to make the largest element of the Indian democracy structured. What they learn as political workers, unfortunately decides the politics and fate of the nation.
Sanjay Sahay

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