After several leaders ended their speeches Madhurani stood up to give hers. She went to the microphone and, giving a long pause, threw a sweeping glance over the huge crowd of audience. Everyone fell silent. Those who were feeling drowsy, pricked their ears and got ready to listen to her.
“Brothers and Sisters…”
Again a pause. People gave a thunderous applause. Now it was not the workers but the people who had clapped voluntarily. Because finally Madhurani’s speech had begun..
This is what they call ‘charisma.’
Ganeshrao proudly looked at her.
The speech made by Madhurani continued for about 45 minutes. It seemed like she had mesmerized the people. Ganeshrao had till then only heard about her skill in oratory. Now he was experiencing it. Ganeshrao was also mesmerized. But then he was alerted by the unexpected slogans raised by people in a corner.
“Madhurani Murdabad….” Unexpected slogans were raised from the corner.
Ganeshrao turned in that direction and saw saw some young men holding red flags tied to thick sticks.
As it is there were rumors that someone would try to create trouble during the meeting. This must be the work of Sampatrao Patil’s son Deepak Patil
After Sampatrao Patil died in the accident his heir and son Deepak Patil had taken over his father’s political mantle. Perhaps he had inkling that Madhurani could be behind his father’s death. From that day onwards their relations got strained and became sour. If Sampatrao were alive he would not have taken this course of action. But the son was a young man with new vigor..”Madhurani Murdabad…Madhurani…Down, Down”… the slogans gained in strength.
It seemed as if there would be chaos all over. Madhurani paused for a moment. She glanced at Madhukarrao and other workers. Who knows what message got exchanged between Madhurani and Madhukarrao, but Madhukarrao started for the corner from where the slogans were being raised. Madhurani, pretending as if nothing had happened, continued with her speech.
After Madhukarrao and the forty-odd people, who were with him, went near them, the matter became worse. People who had sticks began to beat Madhurani’s workers. Then Madhurani’s workers also did not remain quiet. They snatched sticks from their hands and began to beat them in turn. Huge commotion started among the crowd. People began to run helter shelter. Madhurani was forced to stop her speech midway.
One Police Officer came to the mike and began to appeal people to stay calm. But by now people had gone beyond control. Those who had tied red kerchiefs and were carrying thick sticks also seemed to have gone up in number. They used sticks and Madhurani’s workers, not having any sticks, began to pelt stones. It couldn’t be made out from where the stones were coming. Perhaps the people must have already spread them all over. To add to the chaos, one of Madhurani’s workers flung a stone that hit a honey comb hanging from the mango tree. The bees rose and began to sting the people who had gathered there. What do the bees care?... Who is from Madhurnai’s side? And who is from the opposition? They began to sting everyone who came in their way. The bees from the honey comb added to the chaos. Increased the stampede and crushing.
All this was done by Madhurani’s opponents. But no one had ever guessed or imagined that things would reach such a state and get out of control. The Police Officer rang the police station and requisitioned deployment of armed police.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote