The Life and Death of George Fernandes: Revenge of the Grateful

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The Emergency made a hero out of George Fernandes. Shackled but defiant, holding aloft the chains that bound him in captivity, he became the symbol of resistance of the free and indomitable human spirit that does not yield to dictators and autocrats.

George Fernandes, was perhaps one minority political figure in recent times whose minority status never cropped up in the context of his career in politics and power. He needed no introduction other than being himself. Which religious community did he belong to, what was his caste, where did he come from, the highly caste ridden and sectarian constituency of Muzaffarpur in Bihar did not ask him these questions before voting him to the Lok Sabha?

Since George Fernandes did not live off politics but he lived for politics, totally unrelated people contributed money and resources to get him elected while the man himself was incarcerated. He was such a simple man; his needs were meagre and even his elevation to the cabinet did not alter his life style.

He was a heroic figure hence tragic betrayal at the hands of those who stood deeply indebted to him was very much in keeping with the traditional fate of a hero. A man who created a party, cemented and sustained a durable political alliance and nurtured leaders, was ultimately betrayed by those who benefited from him the most. The giant killer and seven-time parliamentarian was made to taste defeat due to the machination of friends and disciples. The grateful had their revenge. He never recovered from the ignominy of his drubbing and gradually slipped into Alzheimer’s leading to complete dissolution of identity. He was lost to himself a long time ago. On January 29, he was lost to the world.

Adieu George!


India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.

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