Poll Vault

We have a thing in journalism during election time: We begin to uncontrollably wet our collective pants.

The point is we choose to focus on politics and polls to the point of such distraction that tomorrow if for some reason World War III breaks out, the headline that you will most probably see is: ‘World goes to war: Will EC opt for bomb-proof EVMs?’ Of course, the straplines to the heading will read: ‘Kejriwal to sit in dharna outside UN headquarters’ and the even more inevitable, ‘BCCI may shift IPL 7 to Mars’.

The beauty of political and election coverage in Indian media is that it is comprehensive and exhaustive, giving a 360 degree view of every aspect of politics, except the one that is actually relevant to the public.  Political reporting, in the case of the electronic media, basically is: standing and reporting from outside the premises of a political party. We in the print media are much more nuanced and insightful and for us political reporting is all about —– you might want to write this down this technical detail — reporting what news channels report.

Since every news, including weather bulletins, is to be about politics till the end of May, we at Crank’s Corner too have chosen to play along. This week we talk about the three major parties in the fray at the national level, analyse their relative chances at the hustings. One word of caution though: We may sound silly in places. Our defence, however, is: We are not a poll survey. We cannot be silly at all places.

BJP: The BJP has chosen to approach the election with the evocative Hindi slogan, ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’, which is a political masterstroke because it is catchy yet simple, making it clear to even South Indians that it is in Hindi and they cannot understand it.

Actually, the BJPs campaign managers can seek votes on the proven track record that it was not part of the UPA-2 government. If this point is not going to work, nothing else will.

It is pretty clear that, as of now, Narendra Modi has all the momentum behind him and there is a groundswell of support for him everywhere in the country, except perhaps within the BJP. L K Advani is less than favourably inclined towards Modi’s candidature on the valid grounds that his (Advani) name begins with ‘A’ and it is only fair that he has the first crack at the Prime Ministership. No, that would seem, at least passably, logical. Advani thinks he should be the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate because — pay close attention here — he wants to become the Prime Minister.  No need to read that sentence again. It will not make sense. Which is exactly the point.

Congress: When you talk of the UPA (of which the Congress was the main ingredient) government’s performance, it can legitimately organise a grand celebratory function to bring out a commemorative stamp and use the space behind the stamp to write in what all it has achieved over the last ten years it was in power. Of course, there will be plenty of free space still. So, practically, there is no way the Congress can go to the people based on its governance.

The Congress, after a thorough and thoughtful search of Rahul Gandh’s house, zeroed in on him as its Prime Ministerial candidate. And he too has risen up to the challenge manfully by travelling the length and breadth of the country, making passionate speeches that run the entire of gamut between ridiculous and extremely ridiculous. Which is the right strategy, as it takes the focus off from Congress’ actual performance in the government.

Anyway, there are only two truisms in Indian Politics. One, you can never write off the Congress. Two, someone will always bring up the previous line in a political news report.

Aam Aadmi Party: The new kid on the block. Okay, make it the new kid on the blocks, on the pavements, on the streets. It is everywhere. Led by the astute Arvind Kejriwal, the party has shaken the political establishment through its practical and people-centric approach of dealing every problem when news channel cameras are around.

If you vote it to power, it is hoped that corruption will come down. But what you can be pretty sure about is the demand for mainstream TV serials will come down. AAP is not so much party as much an action-packed soap opera.

Fed up by cynical politics of the Congress and the BJP, the people were looking for a change and that is where the AAP has come. It has readily struck a chord with the public and now everyone is more or less convinced that the AAP is well and truly capable of delivering politics that is brand new in cynicism.

The AAP has every chance of upsetting the applecarts of the BJP and the Congress. At any rate, if you don’t vote for it, Arvind Kejriwal will personally come and dharna in front of your house.

On the brighter side, you will be on live TV.