And the verdict is: Swap the channel

This week’s piece will provide the most in-depth and incisive analysis on the election results, without the minor matter of who actually won or lost and what is really happening around.

I write this much before the election results are announced. But even if the verdict had been out, I could not have written any better because I would not have been any wiser because I generally follow the election coverage on our popular news channels.

If I have to summarise my experiences with TV-news, then this is it: When I don’t follow the TV channels, I feel ignorant. When I follow the TV channels, I feel totally clueless.

But this is the beauty of modern-day media. For instance, after reading reams and reams on Osama bin Laden and watching endless streams of visual details about him, I know every minute detail of his life, save the peripheral facts like: how old was he actually, where was he really born, how many wives and children he had, what was the clinching proof that he plotted the 9/11 attack, how did he slip into and settle around Pakistan’s capital, how was he killed, and was he killed at all. But never mind, we have clinching proof to establish that he dyed his considerable beard.

Sorry for the digression. Back to the election results. The point is, on the television, if you are discussing, say, the poll verdict in Tamil Nadu, you don’t really need the verdict, you just need: ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy.

‘Cho’ Ramaswamy, for the uninitiated, is a senior political commentator, who is an expert in appearing ‘live’ in 3 different channels simultaneously. I think 3G makes it possible. Or probably his cinema background helps him to play triple roles all at one go with consummate ease.

Compared to Tamil Nadu, discussing the Kerala poll verdict is a tad easy: Anyone who can pronounce the various Mallu names with passable agreeability is deemed a political expert, as the political expertise is confined to just identifying which dispensation was in power when the State went to polls, and picking its opposite as the eventual winner. Ok, also remember this trick: Use the term ‘anti-incumbency’ liberally.  (This year, they say, things will not be all that simple. But that should not stop you from using ‘anti-incumbency’.)

As far as Assam elections go, you can call yourself a seasoned political analyst specialising in the affairs of Assam, if you have heard of or come across Tarun Gogoi’s name even once.

But West Bengal will be is tough as it involves true-blue Bong politicos like Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Bannerjee who speak English in their mother tongue.

Ok, this is how it usually pans out on the television, irrespective whether it’s elections in the State or government formation at the Centre.  I expect this year too to be no different on the news channels.

Times Now (Arnab Goswami and others whose voice you will not hear much): It has been a historical day for Indian democracy, because for the first time in India in the history of democracy, democracy makes history in India, with India, democracy and history for the time that is first, sorry to interrupt, but we have an important ‘news break’ on your news channel…

Swap to CNN-IBN

CNN-IBN (Rajdeep Sardesai along with that other fellow in beard): Even as we are speaking to you, on a day of tumultuous developments, sources are telling CNN-IBN that the AIADMK will up the ante, bite the bullet, throw the spanner (in the works), turn the tables, spin the wheels, soap the shirt, brush the teeth, kick the bucket, shut the door on the DMK for being…

Swap to NDTV

NDTV (Prannoy Roy): It has been a time of constant flux, as one event is leading to another and another, each of which goes on to prove that Rahul Gandhi is the true star of this campaign in which the Congress has proved that Rahul Ganhdi is its true star.

(You try to swap to some other channel, but you can still hear Barkha’s voice)

Barkha: Rahul has charged the Deccans, challenged the Royals in both Bangalore and Rajasthan, showed that he is the true Indian to Mumbai, proved that he is a daredevil in Delhi, a super king in Chennai, a warrior in Pune, a Tusker in Kochi and is ready to take on any King’s eleven in Punjab…

Which is the right cue for you to return to the channel that beams the IPL, even though it itself has been boring.

But remember IPL has Archana Vijay. Elections have just Jaya or Mamata.