At the movie theatre the other day, the cheerful young chit who checked my bag saw me glance at a wall poster of Pawan Bansal who is the Congress candidate from Chandigarh and told me in a sibilant whisper Don’t vote for him – or any of them. My mother asked me on the phone today – Aren’t you excited! The elections are almost upon us! Who do you think will win?
My mother and that opinionated young woman at the mall are far from the only Indians who are deeply interested in Indian politics. All of India will be glued to the TV in weeks to come, avidly consuming stories about booth capturing, unusual election campaigns, watching discussions by psephologists holding forth on predictions, exit polls, trends, analyses, results, and more. All of India is watching with bated breath to see what will happen in the upcoming Indian General Election, 2014.
- This will be the longest election in our country’s history conducted in 9 phases from 7th April to 12 May 2014 with results being announced on 14 May. As many as 122 constituencies will go to the polls on 17 April 2014, which will be the busiest day of the polls.
- The total estimated electoral strength is 81.45 crores (compared to 713 million in 2009) making this far and away the biggest democratic exercise ever in the world
- This time around, about a 10 crore new eligible voters are added to the number from last time
- As many as 13 Bollywood celebrities are contesting this time around including Nagma, Ravi Kishen, Paresh Rawal, Bappi Lahiri, Mahesh Manjrekar, Hema Malini and Rakhi Sawant.
- Until the 6th Lok Sabha elections in 1977 there used to be about 3 to 5 contestants per seat, in the last elections in 2009 that number of average contestants per seat climbed to nearly 15 (the highest was 25.69 in the 1996 elections however)
Presenting the Theatre of the Absurd
It’s a circus ladies and gentlemen. Candidates and their supporters are pulling out all the stops when it comes to campaigning. Astonishing amounts are being spent (the aam junta can only guess at these astronomical amounts) on canvassing. We are seeing all types of advertising – subtle, in-your-face, subliminal. The propaganda is direct and indirect – it is on the roads, on TV, in theatres, on social media, the newspapers and everywhere. You would have to be living under a rock to miss out on this.
AAP’s campaigning tactics are particularly unique – in keeping with the party’s symbol of a broom, Medha Patkar thought nothing of picking up a broom to clean up in Ghatkopar, Mumbai when she arrived and found the place to be filthy. V Balakrishnan, candidate for AAP from Bangalore (Central) may have a net worth of 190 crores, but he has decided to make a statement by traveling to office on the bus so that he can get the feedback of his would-be constituents on the ride. Gul Panag has been campaigning in Chandigarh on her bike because it allows her to connect with young voters.
Social media is buzzing
Everyone has a view on these elections and wants to express it. Bloggers have so much to say these days. Salacious stories about corruption, aspersions upon personal probity and glowing references to preferred candidates are going viral and circulating at dizzying speeds.
Hashtags such as #ISupportAAP #PolarisedPolls #YoSoniaSoPoor #BJPRiggedEVM are trending on Twitter these days. Pithy sound bytes are rushing back and forth, being tweeted and retweeted, it is all really very exciting. Things are hotting up indeed!
Enjoy this electro mix –
Jokesters are having a field day
Things are hotting up on the election front and they are getting positively scalding hot among the jokesters, the comics, the cartoonists and the satirists of our country. These chaps are having a field day – so many oddballs to caricature! Our political candidates provide such fine fodder for the humour mills that the wits are salivating at the opportunity to dip their pens in vitriol.
The Rahul Gandhi jokes abound:
“Mamma, can I get Amethi parantha?” “Shutup Rahul.”
“Why is Rahul Gandhi still unmarried? Because Sonia has been urging people “Mujhe Bahumat Dena”
There are far fewer of the NaMo jokes (it is well known that the man doesn’t have a sense of humour; alas neither do most of his fans), but they’re there. Narendra Modi is also referred to as FekuMan or FekuModi; visit this page for some good Modi cartoons and FekuMan Jokes. I particularly liked one of the cartoons at this Modi cartoon page: this one has a grinning Modi’s face superimposed on first on a tea vendor and then a paan vendor – the Before and After pictures are entitled “Chaai Pilana” and “Choona Lagaana”.
The elections and the results will be riveting no doubt, but for that we have to wait. Meanwhile here is a most enjoyable lampooning of our politics and politicians in the style of TV’s favourite harangue-man Arnab Goswami :
By – Reena Daruwalla
See also –