We all know Capt. Gopinath as the pioneer of low cost aviation in India. It’s another matter that this whole business model is no longer viable, thanks to the vagaries of petrol price fluctuation and governmental rules and regulations. The fact remains that, in a time of monopolistic aviation practices, Capt. Gopinath undertook to start Deccan Aviation, which made traveling by air affordable to the common man for the first time. So, in our minds, this sense of ‘Capt. Gopinath empathizes with the common man’ was a kind of article of faith. And the news that he is standing for election gives us, perhaps, some hope in a scenario where a voter generally has to choose the lesser of two evils – a politician who is less corrupt and less inefficient than the others.
Since it’s often true that the Indian voter does not vote for someone as much as against the present incumbent who has done nothing but feather his own nest and accumulate riches, the prospect of voting for someone who has a proven track record of doing something is indeed an attractive one. Besides, it’s not often that we hear of a candidate who is not screened behind an impenetrable wall of security, from the very electorate s/he is supposed to mingle with, and represent. An informal walk in Lalbagh sounded very approachable indeed!
We were at Lalbagh at about 7AM, where we saw a few volunteers meeting people and passing out flyers. The flyers were refreshingly eco-friendly; instead of sheets of A4 paper, they were the size of visiting card. Each said, under a small picture of the man, ‘Stand Up For Your Rights…Vote to Make a Difference….Vote for Capt. Gopinath’, along with his website and email id. (see box)
When we went to the Glass House, Capt. Gopinath had not yet arrived and this meant that the volunteers had little success in getting morning walkers and joggers to stay on the spot long enough to meet him. Many of them took the flyers and walked off.
But as Capt. Gopinath made his appearance, a knot of people did gather around. When people realized that this was an unusual event – a candidate approaching common people instead of only ‘designated’ vote banks, even more clustered around and talked to him.
Introducing myself, I asked if I could have a few minutes for some questions. He cheerfully assented.
Q. What’s going to be the cost of your election campaign and where are the funds coming from?
A. The upper limit fixed for election campaign expenses, as per law, is Rs. 25 lakh. So that’s my campaign budget. As you know, I have been a successful entrepreneur and have a willing band of supporters, who are also chipping in with contributions. I am sorry; I will not be running a multi-crore campaign.
Q. Which constituency are you standing from?
A. I am standing for election from Bangalore (South). That’s why I chose Lalbagh as a venue to meet people from all walks of life.
Q. As an independent MP, if you win, how do you plan to bring about change?
A. I am as frustrated with the present government and its opaque, corrupt method of functioning, as any of you. That’s why I am standing for election. I want to bring about a government that is not short-sighted, and one that is accountable to the people. There is no accountability right now; politics seems to mean absolute power. I want to stop politics on the basis of caste or religion, and make sure that people are in harmony.
Q. How do you rate your chances of winning?
A. That depends on all of you. That’s what I am requesting each of you to do…please go to the booths on election day and vote. Your vote makes a difference, how ever you may feel about it. We need everyone to bring about a change in the government. Unless the middle, the educated and working classes vote, it won’t happen. Do vote for me; that will increase my chances of winning and bringing about some long needed changes.
To know more about Captain Gopinath, visit the wiki on him at
Capt. Gopinath’s website is at www.votecaptgopi.com and his email id is captgopi [at] votecaptgopi [dot] com
You can directly email him with any questions that you may have, which will enable you to decide whom to vote for.
These were standard questions, met with the standard answers. Has anyone ever met a candidate who says he is against communal harmony or transparency in politics? I have, in my own lifetime, seen several apparently reluctant and honest people turn into very opaque politicians. Yes, hope has been belied several times.
But I have not ever had a single electoral candidate even visit the apartment building where I live, much less approach people in this informal way. All the candidates have formal election meetings to which I would not go to unless I wanted a sari or money! This total disconnect between the candidates in my constituency (some of whom I don’t even know by name, fame or notoriety) was breached for the first time by Capt. Gopinath.
But we all know that Capt. Gopinath is very fresh to the fray and that an independent candidate always works under a tremendous disadvantage in terms of election infrastructure. I asked a couple of the volunteers – Vinit Bhansali and Surabhi Tomar, how they rated Capt. Gopinath’s chances. A non-committal shrug was my answer. “But,” said Vinit with a smile, “We do hope that he will be elected; we are certainly working hard for it and we hope that if he is returned, we will be able to see changes for the better in our city and state.” ⊕