This is the most interesting phase of the election, but last night as I sat to watch Times Now, I was wondering if I would be happier if my 15-year-old daughter were to be watching one of the countless soaps and food shows on entertainment (or infotainment) television than Newshour. The answer was yes.
We still have voting for 194 constituencies across 11 states and union territories in the balance, but the campaigning has touched such a new low with a slanging match between the BJP and various political parties, that it’s not fun anymore. Every election gets dirty, but this time it’s not just on the streets and the ‘nukkads’, but being on television every night, it’s right there in our living rooms.
After ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ some years back, the sobriquet of ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ is not too harsh, right? So why the alarm, you may ask. Well, my concern is that I don’t want my daughter, who is just about getting familiar with the political system of our country and is reasonably proud of our country and heritage, to be disillusioned by our political leaders.
Over the last two weeks, I have been asking kids in Mumbai, Pune and Varanasi about what they feel about the elections. I also asked them for their views on the top leaders of each disposition. Here’ what I heard: Narendra Modi may be generating cheers all over, but his style of oratory and the way he modulates his voice is uncool, they said.
Arvind Kejriwal was ‘kewl’ for them some six months back, but his all-knowing ‘aam aadmi’ demeanour is now found to be a fake. As for the Gandhi bachchas – Rahul and Priyanka, all their innocence is overshadowed by their party’s inefficiencies and some serious corruption charges against the party and the family.
Television has indeed impacted the discourse in modern-day India. And news television has ensured that all of us benefit most by putting errant politicians and administrators in the dock. Unfortunately, what we see in the nightlies these days is stuff that one would associate with a C-grade Hindi film.
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it.