Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My Experiment with Politics-2

Year 2: March 2003 The time coincided with the general feeling of feel-good within the hostel, which had just conducted the biggest technical festival of North India of all time, Tryst 2003. As it turned out, it was just the calm before the storm, something which was to blow up the entire year apart. And, worst of all, I, unwittingly, was at the start, end and centre of it. There had been a controversy during Tryst which had tended to split the working junta of the hostel into two. The controversy was resolved, but it left almost permanent fissures within our batch.
The second year politics started off with the Elite Group (again almost the same set of people) deciding that the time had come to get up their act again. And this time they made their decision in a closed room, promising to give the posts to the most "deserving" persons. And then they came to me with the list. Now, well, I was a pretty important figure in my year, because I was on pretty good terms with everyone in my batch, and so my opinion did matter. But some of the decisions made by the group seemed controversial, and as always, I believed that the decision lay on the entire batch, rather than a group of people, even if it included myself. And I also believed, quite convincingly, that I would make the best Cultural Secretary, but the Group had chosen someone else, who was undoubtedly the most talented and the best representative we had, but who was reluctant to take up the responsibility. And that became the first step of the controversy between two groups, the Elite one and the group which had also worked for the hostel, but had not really wanted anything much, but were there just to voice their frustration at the scheme of things (except for me probably :D) (I will call it the working group). And on our side was the person who had been the Elite Group's candidate for Cultural Secretary And the fight later spilled onto other posts as well, pitting three people in direct fight in Sports Secretary, and two in Maintainance Secretary. The only post that remained uncontested was the post of the Mess Secretary, but that was because the only candidate had maneovered his way pretty well. He was the main proponent of the Elite Group, and while he is a good friend today, those days were not the best in terms of our friendship. In a consensus building exercise, the guy tipped to be the Cultural Secretary gradually agreed, and I (and a lot of other pretenders to the post) backed out.
The biggest fallout of this all was in Sports, where the three nominees represented the three groups that had informally built up in the hostel : the Elite, the Working, and the non-working. And a meeting among the three candidates themselves , they agreed on the third candidate. It was one of the decisions that was to haunt us for the next whole year. The other two candidates were much much worhtier in every respect, and while one of them (Elite Group's candidate, who after this was to become one of my very best friends) went on to become the BSA Gsecy as well, it also marked the end of a brilliant sporting career for the second (who was, and is, one of my best friends, and was the Working group's candidate), who went on, however, to make an invaluable contribution to the Karakoram BRCA team the rest three years.
The Maintaince Secy post, however, was by far the most controversial, where the two candidates were also very good friends :the Elite Group's one, who was banking on his "deserving" prowess, pitted against one of the most likeable guys in the batch then. He had a full supporter in me, because I believed him to be able to completely fulfil all his responsibilities.
Inspite of all the talk of consensus, things finally came to a standstill, and finally a batch vote was agreed on. And there I came into the picture, arbitarily one day deciding that the time was right for one, and inviting people to my room to come and vote. The people voted, and by the end the result was shocking : 34-17 to the working group's candidate. It was a verdict noone, including me, had predicted, and it led to vast allegations of anti-campaigning by the Elite Group. The batch was on a verge of a virtual split, when something else happened.
The candidate I had supported was asked by seniors whether he wanted to become an External Secretary. It was on the condition that he would resign from the Maintenance Secretary's post. He agreed, and the Maintenance Secy's post went to the losing candidate from the Elite Group. The worse thing, however, was that the winner was not even given an external post, because of some external changes at the last minute. It created divisions in the batch, and the initial 34-17 was divided into 3 groups: of roughly 17 each again: those voting the Elite Group, those voting the Working group, and agreeing that the new Maintenance Secretary was good enough (this included me, and almost the entire set of people who mattered), and those who were totally against the new Maintenance Secretary. It was a fight that was to continue next year as well. But for now, the first two parties had sort of made peace, and that was all that mattered.
In the external elections, it was the year that Kara got the BRCA GSecy. So it was a matter of great pride. And in a little detail, the only other external post that Kara got was the Hindi Chief Editor, which fell to yours truly. And I only knew about it while I was going inside SAC for voting. I was the BSP English rep, and so I even gave my speech in more English than Hindi. I was a complete misfit for the post, but being the only candidate, I was kind of accepted for the post. It was maybe a cookie for the Working Group, who had given their all, but had not gotten any bigger post internally (except maybe Cultural Secretary). And maybe it was also to assuage all those supporters of the winning Maintenace Secy, who could not become the external Secretary, he was promised.
Anyways, Politics had treated me pretty well again, and I was looking forward to the next year, when the ultimate prize: The House Secretary was to be decided.

8 comments:

atish said...

Its amazing how vividly you remember all these events....Nice post, and perhaps the only one in your "My experiments with politics" triology (I Hope it isn't any longer ;)) that I would be able to identify with :)..

behindcloseddoors said...

True atish! I sometimes wonder is it that you always kept an account of the year's political happenings somewhere for later reproduction ;) How I marvel at your memory?

zubin said...

[Atish,Sameer] They dont compare me to Das for nothing :D. On a separate note, I am sure you guys too remember all this, and you guys are just pulling my leg.

behindcloseddoors said...

Pulling your leg, naaah.... it would be too heavy!!

Musafir... said...

From my personal experience, I can comment that it has been the same since the last two years...now from your experiences...I am very surprised... how come it be that the very same internal politics story suceeds in repeating itself every year in karakoram...
And yes congrats on cracking IIMC, treat to deni hi padegi...

Ashwani said...

The good part about Kara getting the RCA G.Sec. was also that it came to a very deserving candidate, Anant. Something that does not happen quite often in IIT.

zubin said...

[Nikhil] Well, the reason it repeats year after year is because its difficult for a batch of 60 odd people to stay together year after year. Sad but true.
And thanks, treat to milegi hee..
[Ashwani] Yes, but was it some other candidate, would the joy be any less? I mean, the good part for me as a second yearite was that Kara got the RCA GSec, it was a good thing for the institute that it was Anant, who was a very deserving candidate.

Anonymous said...

glad to hear hes a deserving candidate ...
for one sensibility prevails....