January 14, 2013 by Parthajeet
When the results came in, I was not surprised. I knew that the promise of free hats for everyone with an income below Rs. 5000 per month would work. I vividly remember the day when Pareshbhai pulled this out of nowhere. We were out campaigning in 48 degrees in May in Bharuch. As I stepped out of my air-conditioned ‘Gujarat Rath’, I felt as if I was entering a furnace, my skin instantly singed. Guptaji welcomed me on the dais with a traditional Bharuch hat, which gave me instant relief. The dais had a shamiana cover on top, but the 4 o’clock sun had managed to creep in from the front. The flutter of the fabric at the edges provided nothing more than a comic relief to the heat. All I could think of was to get back to my ‘Gujarat Rath’ as soon as possible.
The heat was numbing and I could not think straight. I rehearsed my speech in mind as Guptaji began the introductions. And then Pareshbhai whispered in my ears “Why not offer free hats to all?”
It did not make sense instantly, but as I quickly mulled over it, I realized that Pareshbhai’s suggestion had merit. When people work in such unbearable conditions, could they be thinking of anything else but relief from the heat? They would not care much about healthcare; anyway who demands healthcare in India? Free cool water would work too I sensed, but I knew it would be an administrative nightmare to pull that through. Moreover a cool water promise would not work in the winter months. But a free hat would work during all seasons. Relieve from the sun, relief from the rains, relief from the cold as well. Moreover giving free hats was a far easier task to accomplish than my previous term’s disastrous free homes promise.
So I said it…there and then.
The opposition made mince-meat out of the offer, by bombarding the media with their slogan “Topi-pehnayenge” In hindsight, the whole anti-campaign by the opposition worked very well in my favour, as the top of the mind recall in everyone’s mind over the last six months has been the topi (hat).
The Chinese businessmen who are visiting me this weekend in the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Conclave’ have promised to make the required number of all-weather hats free, if we buy computers from them for the state’s requirement. I sense that this is the first time in the history of the country that any politician has a chance of living up to one’s election promise.
A third win for me; wow, this was indeed a hat-trick!