I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel short-changed by the main actors in the lead up to this election.
Mr. Journalist, it’s not Feku vs Pappu or NaMo vs RaGa
Let’s start with the media first. In a mad scramble for eyeballs they, to borrow an expression from Star Wars, have crossed over to the dark side. Instead of being impartial observers and reporters they are busy selling us (the middle class) the idea that this is an American style presidential election with just three protagonists – the BJP, the Congress(I) as a lost case and AAP. They have decided we need to forget that Mulayam, Mamata, Jagan Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Nitish, Navin are still very much around because focusing on them destroys the presidential style election narrative.
If allegations that business houses are using the media as a proxy to get Modi elected are true, then we ought to be worried – the freedom of the press has been bartered away for media budgets.
Enough of the dumbing down
The second disappointment is with the favourite – the BJP led by Mr. Modi. To be fair, throughout the campaign he has given the cheap thrill seekers among us a lot, be it the Shehzade jibe or the 56 inch chest approach to national security or the Russians understanding Chai instead of tea. After my laughter subsided, I was no wiser on his policies. How will he tackle corruption? What’s the economic policy he intends to pursue? Anyone heard his ideas on foreign policy? Or how agriculture will be revived? No, the Gujarat model does not qualify as an answer, India is too complex for such a smug response. It’s amazing that a political party aiming to govern can actually get away without a critical scrutiny of its policies.
In fact, for me the only interesting idea I have heard so far has come from the most maligned of politicians – Rahul Gandhi. At a public rally he spoke of implementing the Right to Health, whatever said, it is an idea. Something worth debating on; where will the money come from? Will it increase the fiscal deficit? How will it be implemented? AAP’s crusade against corruption is already well known to us as is their aversion to leaders’ ostentatious display of power. They were asking a lot of interesting questions of us but even they seem to be strangely quiet on other issues.
Let’s be clear, we face enough issues beyond economy and corruption. Given the millions of pending cases, we need judicial reforms. We need better delivery of government services. A coherent climate change policy. Ideas to revitalise agriculture and small scale industries which still are the largest employers. This list could go on, I could ask questions but I know the response I will receive – hype not substance. Unfortunately.
By P. Murali Gopal
A Nation Searches For A Hero