| Morning walkers at Patna zoo on Friday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
“Yeh Rudy jaisa tha vaisa nahi raha, badal gaya hai (Rudy is no more what he used to be, he has changed),” two men in their late-sixties discussed, ignoring others waiting for them to step aside. “Sach me.. khud hi voter se saawal poochhta hai. Lagta hai isko dikkat hoga. (True, he questions his voters. I think he is going to face trouble),” replied his friend.
“Rabri is also contesting from Saran, RJD seems strong there. But Rudy is too suave,” they discussed walking away.
Even at 7am, morning walkers at Patna zoo were busy in election-related discussions alongside their usual exercises. From netas (leaders) to contenders, from caste factor to predictions, poll buzz had replaced the usual morning calm on the zoo greens that was hard to miss.
The uncles and the aunties, out to knock off a few extra kilos, did hone their debating skills.
As a couple walked swiftly, the husband said: “Roz roz news mein sirf politics, kitne neta sab yaa toh party badal rahe hai yaa naraaz hote rehte hai. Pata nahi Nitish ka kya hoga (the news channels only keep flashing political stories, leaders either keep getting angry or keep switching parties. God knows what will happen to Nitish).”
The wife remained quiet. Then, suddenly, with a poker-faced expression, she said: “Ghar chaliye, bahut ho gaya walking (let’s go home, enough of walking).”
A large group of middle-aged men were seen performing a form of yoga, breathing in and out.
“Misa seems to be working hard…” said one. Another interrupted. “She might be but Ram Kripal is a stronger candidate. And Lalu’s move to rope in Reet Lal into the party clearly shows that the RJD is still the same old bunch. Pataliputra seat toh BJP ko hi jayega. Leher hai leher! (The Pataliputra seat will go to the BJP only. It is the wave, the wave!)” the man said and they went on discussing the chaacha-bhateeji (uncle-niece) equation. The yoga could definitely wait.
As the watch ticked 8, a couple and their two teenaged children appeared. The father, in T-shirt and shorts, said: First time kisko vote doge? (Whom will you vote for?)”
The teenagers smiled. Not amused, the mother said: “Jisse bhi denge aapko thode hi bolenge. (They can give it to anyone they feel. Why should they tell you?)”
One of them said: “It is time for change. We will think about it” before starting to jog ahead of the parents.