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They don't make leaders like him anymore

Traits of honesty, simplicity, humility and selfless service to humanity do not capture the imagination of the society any more. Yes, currently only religion, caste and audacious vulgar bankrupt violent talks sell like hot cakes in the current electoral environment.

ByKajal Chatterjee

Updated on 28 Dec 2021, 11:26 am

(PHOTO: Unsplash)

(PHOTO: Unsplash)

 
It is perhaps "in-thing" to say that politicians have devastated the society and the nation, as if they have descended from an alien planet and are imposing themselves upon us! But the fact remains that they are part and parcel of this very society only and get elected to Assemblies, Parliament and Governance through free will of the electorate only. So if the politicians are indeed so "rogue", then the finger of blame should be directed at the voters or common people only! 
 
However, despite a lot of filth in politics, all leaders are definitely neither corrupt nor devils. But how do we treat those exceptional personalities. Perhaps, it would not be out of context if the life and deeds of late AK Roy get highlighted.
 
Born in Rajshahi (present day Bangladesh) in a family of freedom fighters, AK Roy went on to earn a degree in Chemical Engineering from Kolkata University and pursued higher education in Germany. Returning to India, Roy joins Sindri fertilizer factory near Dhanbad (then in Bihar, presently in Jharkhand) obviously in a high post. 

But witnessing the exploitation of the laborers and poverty of the downtrodden, he resigned from the economically lucrative glamourous job to join a Communist outfit and started his fight on behalf of the vulnerable!

Despite strong opposition from the coal mafia and vested interests; he went on to become MLA as well as MP from Dhanbad, totalling six terms with occasional defeats also (in 1970s and 80s).

Thanks to his immense personal sacrifice in the career front so as to fight for the exploited lot and due to his impeccable honesty and simplicity, AK Roy was nothing but a living legend in the Dhanbad coal belt. Without entering into a matrimonial bond, Roy used to live in a tiny room within the party office. The salary which he used to receive as MP/MLA were spent for the welfare of the poor. No Bank Account, only two sets of shirts and trousers, travel in general class compartments!

So when I became eligible to vote during the 1989 Lok Sabha polls, obviously my first vote of life had been cast in favour of Roy. He had won, but that was the last electoral win of his career.

In the 1991 general polls, he was defeated by BJP's Rita Verma, wife of a Dhanbad police officer, who was killed by bank robbers in early 1991. Not only did she get the advantage of a huge sympathy vote, the Ayodhya "movement" was also the hot talk of the town and society. Moreover in "economically liberalised" India, all traits of sacrifice honesty principles pro-poor attitude were fast losing its earlier values and relevance in the society. Religion started becoming the electoral trump card with selfish consumerism and money-making by hook or by crook gaining social acceptance, promoting it to be perhaps the only goal of life!

Despite being politically marginalized, Roy continued to work in his own way silently among the downtrodden. He didn't view politics as a means of garnering wealth and prosperity, but as an avenue to award selfless service to the society. So the handsome pension, of which he was entitled to as an ex-MP, again used to get redirected towards the President's Welfare Fund!

And as innumerable poor in this country is bereft of electricity, Roy voluntarily used to stay in an electricity-less room till his last days.

This highly exceptional personality, aged 84, breathed his last on July 21, 2019 unsung, far far away from the limelight. Barring a few lines here and there, his passing away elicited not even a single ripple also in the Indian society. It was not Roy's loss, rather it is the tragedy of the nation. 

Indeed they don't make personalities like AK Roy any more! And also it proves that traits of honesty, simplicity, humility and selfless service to humanity do not capture the imagination of the society any more. Yes, currently only religion, caste and audacious vulgar bankrupt violent talks sell like hot cakes in the current electoral environment. So common people have simply forfeited all moral right to accuse politicians behind the mess prevalent in the society. No wonder why it gets stated "People get the government and leaders they deserve"! 

First published:28 Dec 2021, 11:26 am

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Kajal Chatterjee

Kajal Chatterjee

Special Contributor, KOLKATA, West Bengal

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