The soft-spoken leader is Nagpur Congress Vice-President Deorao Tijare — once a proud City Father — who is today compelled to work as a night watchman outside the very same Nagpur Investment Trust building of which he was once the Chairman!
A former leader of Congress(S), Tijare, 72, was elected as a Municipal Corporator in 1985 and again in 2002 as a Nationalist Congress Party candidate — both parties led by Pawar.
In 1991, seeing his capabilities, the party rewarded him with the coveted post of Chairman of NMC‘s Standing Committee, which is virtually the key to the city’s finances, and he also headed the NIT.
“The doors of the NIT, which once were opened by someone else, today I stand on guard there… My salary is around Rs 7,000 a month and I am doing it to support my family,” Tijare told IANS without a tinge of regret in his voice.
Around a decade ago, when his ‘style’ of leadership became out-of-sync with the modern-day ‘politics of economics’, Tijare even became a realty broker and earned commission with which he tended to his home fires.
But in the past five-six years, with the property markets on a downswing, the BA graduate from University of Nagpur had no options but grab the job of a watchman, doing nightshift duties in the very city he once lorded over as a City Father.
He recalled the days when he was the NMC Corporator from Shanti Nagar and took home an honorarium of Rs 500 per month, and in his second term it was hiked to Rs 3,000.
Tijare had thrown his lot behind the former Congress strongman and 5-time MP and 3-time MLC Datta Meghe, currently in the BJP, and considers him as his “political mentor”.
“I remained with him till he joined the BJP… I have seen many of my other erstwhile colleagues making it big in the party or government over the years,” he added without a hint of remorse.
In the 1980s, Tijare remembered how excited he would be when Pawar visited the state’s second capital.
“I would hire a bicycle and ride down some 20 km to the Nagpur Airport to receive our leader, along with some other activists… Those were the days when people and values mattered in politics, now things have changed and everything seems commercialized,a he smiled.
A far cry from today, when even ordinary party activists at the village level zoom around in expensive or imported vehicles to receive the local legislators or parliamentarians!
His family — comprising a doting wife, Shubhangi, daughters Rajani Pundalik Landge (married), Prachi studying at the Nagpur Government Polytechnic, besides a son Dnyanesh — in his TYBCom at G. S. College of Commerce and Economics – is not only proud of him, but considers him a shining example of how people in public life should serve the people selflessly.
To a query by IANS whether he was prepared to contest the elections if given an opportunity, Tijare declared without hesitation: “I am willing to serve the masses anytime… upholding the same values as before.”
(With inputs from mumbaimirror)