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We’re done with another round of polling in two important states. This has been a year of polls (and by-polls), and people voting for CHANGE! 

Maharashtra and Haryana, the most prosperous of India’s states, have new chief ministers.

In the northern state, a man, whose parents worked as labourers after arriving from Pakistan post-partition, and who once wanted to be a doctor, has become the first Punjabi and first non-Jat chief minister to occupy the post after nearly two decades.

Manohar Lal Khattar is admired for his organisational skills. The 60-year-old former pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a bachelor and known for his simple lifestyle and clean image. Though a first-time MLA he has earned himself the reputation of a tough task master with a no-nonsense approach while working behind-the-scenes in key positions in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Closer home, the BJP’s choice as its first chief minister is a Brahmin from Nagpur, also a RSS pedigree. But Devendra Fadnavis had many other interests apart from politics – the incumbent president of BJP’s Maharashtra unit was once a model for a garment store in Nagpur. The 44-year-old’s political graph is nothing short of dramatic. A law graduate, he worked closely with the party’s youth wing, before getting elected as corporator in 1992. Within five years, at the age of just 27, he became the youngest Mayor of the Nagpur.

This was followed by an unbroken four-term stint as a legislator representing Nagpur in the Maharashtra assembly, where he distinguished himself as an aggressive and well-informed people’s representative and leader with a clean image. Armed with documents, he took the lead in targeting the Democratic Front government on a host of issues including the Adarsh and irrigation scams.

Allegations of corruption, incompetence and dynastic politics plagued the earlier regimes led by the Congress in these states. So the new governments known for their aggressive posturing and poll campaigns as the opposition, would now be expected to usher in the CHANGE they promised people.

What has changed? One really wonders. Despite the kindly twinning of Pakistan and India by the Nobel Committee, peace between the two countries remains illusory. There is trouble in the east, and the northeast. In Haryana, politicians continue to bow before Khap Panchayats. Closer home, caste violence continues to raise its ugly head. Maharashtra police’s failure to nab perpetrators of a gruesome triple murder of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district, even a week after the incident, should anger any sensitive soul.

Still there is hope. That someday we may realize the true meaning of those famous words, ‘Be the CHANGE you wish to see…’

- Anosh Malekar