Father unaware son has been a legislator for 10 years

February 21st, 2009 - 11:32 am ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Feb 21 (IANS) Kawasi Lakhma has been a Chhattisgarh legislator for the past 10 years, but his 90-year-old father remains unaware of his status and hopes that Lakhma would return to the village and plough the fields again.

“My village, Nagaras in Dantewada district, is probably one of the country’s most poverty-stricken villages, where the Maoist insurgency has left people out of the mainstream. I am a rare person in the village who wears a clean dress after becoming an MLA (legislator) in 1998, and my father thinks I must be involved in criminal acts to be able to buy good clothes,” said Lakhma, a Congress legislator.

Nagaras is located some 450 km south of capital Raipur in the state’s southern Bastar region.

Lakhma, 53, who was returned to the state assembly for the third time in the polls last November, says his father still holds meetings of his relatives to persuade his legislator son to return to the family’s traditional work - ploughing the field and plucking Tendu leaves used for rolling beedis (locally-manufactured cigarettes).

A Gond tribal who never attended school and remains illiterate, Lakhma said: “Whenever I come to capital Raipur to attend the assembly session, my father Kawasi Arma convenes a meeting at my village of relatives and asks them to persuade me to shun criminal activities and help the family in cultivation.”

“Neither my father, nor my three brothers nor my wife ever attended school,” he said.

A few children in his village have started going to school now, the legislator said.

“Whenever any leader visits my village, my father asks him to persuade me to return to the family’s traditional work.”

Lakhma’s father does not even share his son’s political affiliations.

“When I was contesting assembly polls in 1998, I asked my father to go and vote. When he returned, I asked him which party he voted for. He said he found a Poongar (Gondi word for BJP’s poll symbol lotus) on the ballot that was looking nice, so I went for it.”

(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at sujeet.k@ians.in)

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