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From the ghats of Varanasi to the bylanes of Chhapra...

After a couple of days at Varanasi where citizens are quite confident of their candidate making it to the Prime Minister’s chair, I took off for Chhapra, headquarters of Saran district and the constituency where Rabri Devi is going to contest against Rajiv Pratap Rudy and possibly a candidate each from Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) and Mayawati’s BSP.

Chhapra may have got into fame in recent times as maverick politician Laloo Prasad Yadav’s constituency, but is known more for such illuminaries like the first President Rajendra Prasad and Jaiprakash Narayan, the architect of the anti-Emergency movement in 1977.

If one didn’t need to dig much to gauge the mood of the Banarasi on the street, it’s tough doing that by speaking to the average Bihari. Saran is where Laloo Prasad Yadav had beaten Rudy in the last elections and people find Rudy disconnected to the masses. However, the sentiment is that there’s a Modi ‘lehar’ and that’s bound to influence the electorate.

And how does he know of this wave, I asked the restaurateur who took time off to speak with me.

“TV news, of course,” he said. And does he believe all that he watches on telly? “Yes, all of them can’t be getting it wrong,” he said.

News TV assumes a huge role in small-town India. Satellite editions of newspapers go to print early and do not always carry the latest news. There is All India Radio and the internet, but given that it’s an audio-visual medium and is easily accessible, TV is the only source for local, regional, national and international news.

Opinion poll results, an anti-Congress sentiment fuelled by some toughspeak by Modi and Arvind Kejriwal have led to a view that Modi will to be the next PM.

When I asked a salesman at a medical store for his views on what Pravin Togadia said, I was taken aback by his definite, pro-Togadia chant. His colleague though disagreed with him strongly, and what ensued was a heated debate.

But nothing to beat the sound and fury on the primetime shows on the same issue last night.

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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