16.3.09

Elections and the tea party

Maverick: Elections and the tea party
By Farzana Versey
Covert March 16-31

On Election Day I plan to sleep. I am not buying into the Jaago re! campaign that says, “Election ke din agar aap vote nahin karte ho to aap so rahe ho.

The ad is sponsored by a tea company, a large industrial house that has other products. The youth is being targeted and as the ad goes about its socially conscious message tea is passed around.

I have a strong antipathy towards private groups trying to market their ideas and products through the nationalistic route. They are no better than political parties and their futile promises and smart slogans.

Will this ad campaign make a difference to the young people in villages? Does it even matter for they are not the consumers?

It is all about consumerism.

For years one has been told that if you don’t vote you have no conscience. This is your chance to be heard. Do you believe that those who are taken in trucks are getting their voices heard? Does one get to see the local corporator once s/he has performed the victory lap in a jeep wearing a marigold garland?

You with your conscience return home with a little ink dot to show you are a conscientious citizen. Have you given much thought about who you have voted for? Even if you have, are you given a guarantee that the promises made in the manifesto are fulfilled? Do you take a political party to court based on shirking of any of those points? Can you do so?

You vote for, say, a secular party because you are not communal. After the counting of votes, the horse-trading begins and your nemesis, the man with the tilak or skull cap, has been bought for a few lakh rupees and is suddenly secular.

You believe in the right of the scheduled castes and tribes. With much hope you cast your vote for the party that represents them. What happens next? It teams up with some goons or, worse, a group that flashes money and big names.

You vote for the right of your favourite god to get a home since your prayer room does not have national legitimacy. Things go pretty well because here you think there is a single-point agenda. But to get to that god, the political party has got into a clinch with those who negate anything godly.

You vote against the powerful foreign element running the show by remote control but the swadeshi lobby is selling out to outsiders in the name of globalisation.

T
he reason the ad mentioned is using the urban youth is not because they are the future but because they are both demand and supply. They are the ones who will decide whether we need a dynasty or not. They will tell us whether a rustic politician can give lectures at management institutes. They will tell us that the brain drain is about making India look good abroad. They will sell us vacuum cleaners by bringing the dust along.

And they are the ones who buy over-the-counter self-righteousness. They love talk of the ‘inner voice’. They don’t care where it comes from. The leader’s inner voice may well be the sword on his head or the pulls and pressures that will work on him and against him. His inner voice will bleed for the poor, but the finance minister can bring out a budget that bleeds them even further.

The man who has served term in jail will start talking about justice, his inner voice having woken up due to solitary confinement and the overdose of watery dal and mosquitoes.

Or we will have the scions, political and of business houses, who will be pushed to the front because their inner voices will not allow them to remain silent. Especially not after the hangover.

The worst part is all of them will promote the idea of idealism. Blind fury is a convenient ploy of those who live in the dark with only neon lights shining their path. The cynic is the real idealist for the cynic asks questions.

On Election Day I will sleep and wake up to the smell of cappuccino and a few perennial unanswered queries.

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