And the many exit polls say different things each time, thereby making the exercise rather dull and boring, even predictable. Far more substantive is the reporting from the election trails. If money were spent by the same networks to send more reporters to the field, rather than depend on a bunch of questions and answers, it would add a very intelligent dimension to reporting.
It would also help young journalists comprehend and come to terms with the churning in India — from dictatorial, polarized political truths and discourses to the attempts being made by some younger politicians to restore a sense of liberal and productive initiatives that will, hopefully, allow India to absorb and energize its diverse and inherent political entrepreneurship.
Some media people say that Modi is set to win while others claim the contest to be so close that no one knows what the outcome will be. It has become exceedingly boring to hear media experts on how Sonia Gandhi’s reference, in a speech in Gujarat, to the administration there as “maut ke saudagar” was the primary reason for Modi turning communal from being a development saudagar. Three cheers for Sonia Gandhi for successfully rekindling and lighting Modi’s real passion and bringing it to the forefront.
Modi immediately dropped the mask of development and returned to his true beliefs, indulging in his usual rhetoric and addressing the people of Gujarat about his exclusive Hindutva — different from the inclusive Hinduism of India — with fiery commitment.
The uncomfortable and restrictive mask of development he had donned had suddenly been unceremoniously put away. It was back to the original sin. The broadcast media in particular, which had helped in full measure to project the ‘new’ image of Modi, were compelled, mid-stream, to shift the narrative after Sonia Gandhi’s speech. They too were at sea.
Speak the truth
The truth may appear to many as mud-slinging. But, in fact, speaking the truth out loud often forces people to revert to what they believe in and endorse it. That is what should happen normally at election time. Leaders must speak out the real truth, talk about what they believe in and not couch those truths in vague innuendoes that leave the political space wide open to endless intellectual interpretations.
Then, if the people of Gujarat (which has begun to sound like an island outside the Indian Union with its potent asmita) still decide that they want Modi, so be it. It is their call, not ours. Surely that fundamental principle of democracy demands our respect. The fight will have to continue relentlessly, led by the Congress, if that party wants to make a dent in Gujarat and its asmita.
The asmita of India was at a high in Bali where the Congress minister Kapil Sibal represented the interests of India as a whole, held his own and got the big powers to fall in line with the reality of planet earth. A fertile mind that exercises itself regularly, feeds itself regularly and grows in stature is what India desperately needs nationally and internationally.
The new generation needs to discard the aged skin to allow the fresh and sparkling new skin to rise to the surface and breathe freely. Intellectuals and thinkers do not age till their brains begin to fail them. They can operate from their armchairs.
Politicians and administrators of policy need to be youthful and possess physical energy and mental agility laced with the excitement of aspiration. All one can say to my generation and that of my father’s, still occupying many a gaddi, is to let go. Have the strength to pass the baton. India is alive and waiting.