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Elections Horribilis!

I must admit that I write this column with much anguish every night. As I witness the obnoxious statements by our political leaders and the various panel discussions on the nightlies, I worry about the future of our country.

I write this from Pune, on the eve of a Narendra Modi rally, and spoke to a cross-section of youth to gauge their sentiments about the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. While all of them were excited about his presence in the city, they recalled how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had visited Pune to support Suresh Kalmadi ahead of his first tenure.

Clearly the suggestion that a visit to the city ensures an ascent to the Big Job is a bit of a stretch, but it’s the rest of what the kids spoke to me about that left me at a loss for words. And concerned that their anxieties aren’t unfounded.

Many questions were asked on the Mulayam Singh statement that the Mumbai gangrapists shouldn’t have been subjected to a death penalty. One of the boys I spoke with has a sister working in Noida and is worried about her well-being in a state where the Chief Minister’s father speaks irresponsibly.

As we were chatting, there was Farhan Azmi, a Samajwadi Party candidate from Mumbai, apologising for the statement of his father Abu Asim Azmi on NDTV 24x7. I thought the apology was commendable, and short of damning his father and his party leader, Farhan pleaded that he be given a chance.

Does this offer you a ray of hope, I asked. “Yes,” he said, “but I am sure Akhilesh Yadav isn’t going to issue an apology for what his father said.” Perhaps. I couldn’t continue the discussion for too long, but the youth in Pune — and I am sure in other parts of the country as well — is worried about what they see on telly every night.

There was a girl in the group who said this rather innocently: just as the Election Commission banned Amit Shah and Azam Khan, why can’t they also ban all this hate speech on news. She was shouted down by the others saying that it’s thanks to television that we get exposed to all the “cartoons masquerading as politicians”. Hmmm..

Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it.
Twitter: @pmahesh
E: noose@pman.in

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