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Chapter 46: Session 46

I remember saying, “You behaved like a henpecked husband; and remember, I may by chance have been the cause of his removal, but I was not planning anything against him. I had only just entered school, there was no time for setting up a planning commission. And you have been planning against him your whole life. He should at least have been sent to another school” - there were four schools in that town.

But Kantar Master was a strong man, and the president particularly was under his thumb. The president of that town was ready to be under anybody’s thumb; perhaps he liked thumbs, I don’t know, but soon the whole town realized that this holy cow dung was not going to help.

In a town of twenty thousand, there was no road worth calling a road, no electricity, no park, nothing. Soon the people realized that it was because of this cow dung. He had to resign, so that at least for the remaining two and a half years his vice president took his place.

Shambhu Babu transformed almost the whole face of that town. One thing I must say to you: that through me he came to know that even a small child could not only remove a teacher, but could create a situation in which the president of the town had to resign.

He used to say laughingly, “You have made me president.” But there were times afterwards when we disagreed. He remained president for many years. Once the town saw his work during those two and a half years he was elected unanimously again and again. He did almost miracles in changing that town.

He made the first cement roads in the whole province, and brought electricity to our twenty thousand people. That was very rare. No other town of that size had electricity. He planted trees at the side of the roads, to give a little beauty to an ugly town. He did much. What I am preparing you for is that there were times when I did not agree with his policies. Then I was his opponent.

You cannot believe how a young child of perhaps twelve could be an opponent. I had my strategies. I could persuade people very easily - just because I was a child, and what interest could I have in politics? And certainly I had no interest at all.

For example, Shambhu Babu imposed the octroi tax. I can understand that; without money how could he manage all his beautifying projects, and roads, and electricity? Naturally he needed money. Some form of taxation was necessary.

I was not against taxation, I was against the octroi tax, because it goes on the head of the poorest. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. I am not against the rich becoming richer, but I am certainly against the poor becoming poorer. You will not believe it, and even he was surprised when I said, “I will go from house to house telling people not to vote for Shambhu Babu again. If the octroi remains then Shambhu Babu has to go. Or if Shambhu Babu wants to remain, then the octroi has to go. We will not allow both together.” I not only went from house to house, I even spoke at my first public meeting.

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