Dear Mr. Chief Minister
I should have written to you almost one year back, when you took over as the driver of the elected machine in Maharashtra. The idea was to give you a brief about the state of affairs. Or, affairs of the State. Since you would be(relatively) new here.
Mercifully, it is not too late. You remain as clueless and as far from reality as you were then.
I wonder if you were any point interested in handling this State? (Your disinterest seems a bit too obvious). After all, you are Prithvi-raj (one who rules the world) pray then why would a tiny inconsequential state like Maharashtra, however MAHA it claims to be, should interest you?
Or is it that the hangover of your previous portfolio, MOS in the PMO, still remains and hence, matters of a state, belittle your competence.
Having said that, I must confess, you are ideal for the state of Maharashtra. Why, that I shall justify later in this note.
Talking of ideal, at least you are ideally better off than your predecessor, who seemed too engrossed in his ‘ideals’ ( Adarsh),which led to his downfall. How can we trust a Chief Minister who can disown his mother-in-law and say she is not family, at the drop of a hat, or in this case, at the sale of a flat.
But that apart, I think it is high time you knew something about your State.
To begin with, a lesson in state capital, Mumbai’s Geography and contours.
Mumbai is not seven kilometers in radius, from Mantralaya to Varsha. (For the uninitiated, Varsha is the official residence of the Maharashtra Chief Minister). Mr. CM, you may live in Varsha, but, the real downpour happens in the rest of Mumbai.
Central Mumbai for instance, once had mills which Mumbai was recognized for. Mills have made way for Malls. What remains are chimneys, more as a heritage fascination. Obviously you don’t seem them billowing with smoke as in the past. Strangulated off their last breath by DBuilders , or people who have more filth in their veins than that flows through Mumbai’s archaic drainage system.
The little hope, from public representatives has been dashed. In central Mumbai itself, one such rep notorious for his stone chawl which even cops fear to scale, while another is popular for his dahi handis rather than ‘upliftment’.
But then, people have given up expecting much from the likes of elected representatives. Many of whom have criminal records and share space with you in the cabinet, or under the same roof in the legislature. You , Mr CM, do not have the courage to enquire why the most inconsequential of leaders manages to travel in the fanciest of cars the moment he gets elected.
.Lower your cr windows and look at their convoys too, Mr CM, You could pick a tip on which car to use for your convoy the next time round.
As I maintained earlier, Mumbai is not only the road from Mantralaya to Varsha. You must some day, drive into rest of Mumbai. Oh yes, there is actually life beyond Dadar too.
Bandra, yes, the same where the sea link begins or ends. Yes the same Sea link which your party leaders and alliance partners squabbled, over the naming, the day it was inaugurated.
What? You haven’t heard of Andheri is it? It is one of the biggest suburbs of Mumbai. Yessss….that’s where Bollywood is. Oh Bollywood you have heard of, is it? How come? Yes, Correct, the same Bollywood where one of your predecessor’s son is gainfully employed. Yes the same chap who went with Ramu Verma into Oberoi hotel shortly after the 26/11 attacks. No wonder.
Honestly Mr. CM, Mumbai has grown. Oblivious to your information, some of your colleagues, hand in glove with the builders have managed to make this city’s geographies extend to far and beyond.
‘Ab Dilli Door nahin’, was once used by politicians who eyed a ‘influential’ seat in the Delhi political circle. Your men in Mumbai have redefined it, by promising land to the hapless Mumbaikar in far-flung areas which may appear closer to Delhi than to Mantralaya or mainland.
When (and if ) you do travel to the suburbs of Mumbai, don’t be shocked to see vehicles with just three wheels bobbing up and down. These are not smaller jet planes going through air pockets.
These are called auto-rickshaws, which are going through crater like pot holes. (A little word of advice. Instead of filling up pot holes, your civic admin can simply join all pot holes by breaking the edges. The road will get leveled. It is far cheaper and faster. True there is lesser money to make, in such a scenario. )
I invite you to a ‘sponsored’ auto-ride. (Of course, the first test will be if you manage to convince an auto-wallah to stop for a passenger. Nope, the cops are very unlikely to pay heed.
Talking of locals and cops.
I think you need to look at the police machinery too. Of the 33,000 police force, as of last count, only a handful are busy in investigating crimes. (Yes some have committed them and some have been shielding those who have committed them). Rest are busy guarding VVIPs, political morchas, clear traffic when your party’s President or the country’s President also from your party visits Mumbai, the latter, so very often.
There are also some in uniform, too busy hiding behind trees and bushes to jump onto the road and scare the shit out of an unsuspecting driver and pocket some money from him for traffic violation.
Net net, you don’t see them doing what they ought to be doing.
The locals are next.(here I mean the local trains and not the Bihari babus who Raj bhau seems to be fixated upon) The scores of massage parlors which were fronts for sex rackets have now extended themselves to the local trains too. Ummmm…..This is a feel you have to feel.
Talking of Local trains, I sincerely urge you to board a Virar fast local, and try getting out at Andheri. Don’t forget to inform the Congress Hi-kamaan (HQ) to start looking for a replacement in the meanwhile. The term Molestation gets redefined in such locations, whichever gender you may belong to.
Well, Mumbai as I repeat, is much more fascinating than your eight minute drive.
In some suburbs, after you get off the train(or get thrown off ), stop by a paani-puri wallah and gently bend down to look under the stall. Hello Mr. , I didn’t ask you to look at the paani-puri wallah’s fingers pacifying his itchy lower half. What I want you to gaze, is at the ground below. These are called foot paths, meant for people to walk. (Some of these relics are visible in paintings of Old Mumbai and portions of Ballard Estate).
Your over-zealous money-maker partners-in-crime have done a magic trick. Like you. They have made the foot paths disappear. Filled them up with hawkers and, converted them into elevated footpaths, which most senior citizens find it tough to climb. But, who cares.
It is all a blame game.Your guys blaming the cops, cops blaming the system and everyone making hay, waiting for Madam’ s son to shine. Just a little note to tell you that in all this, your Executive, who are meant to execute what you guys legislate, are busy playing God to anyone with grease. This is one lot, who do not need palmists for sure.
Net net, Mr. CM, you need to wake up. You need to smell the coffee. When you start smelling, you will realize that Mumbai smells like crap. Different suburbs, different smells.
As I said at the beginning of my piece, this city deserves you. You deserve this city too. For someone who is now known across political circles in Maharashtra as too good and too nice a guy, let me tell you, translated, in hindi, it is not a very charitable way to describe a person.
But, as I mentioned earlier, Maharashtra and Mumbai deserves someone like you. We, of recent past, now belong to the state of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. With great pride and excitement we attended his rally. Some of us also packed our cars with booze so that we could party the night away after the day was spent waving at TV cameras in our designer ‘I am Anna’ caps.
Many piled onto bikes and scooters, a-la three idiots,ignoring traffic laws, whistling and passing remarks at women on the way.(How dare any one stop us, we are Anna’s brigade and fighting corruption you see). Some were also stopped by cops but a hundred rupee note ensured , that our rally-party wasn’t dampened.
Some also told their respective office that they want leave to attend Anna’s victory rally, but headed off to Lonavala. Booze and butter chicken zindabaad.
Dear Chief Minister, we have pot holes and no footpaths. We have traffic and no roads. We have rainfall but no water and we are such a huge and large city, but, your men have made it unaffordable for the average man to buy a place here.
We have to make a living, but we have no life.
We are proud to be Mumbaikar’s, Mr. Chief Minister. But, we don’t really care about Mumbai.
Somehow, we are like you. Same-same, but different. You claim to be there, but, do you also really care?