I find psephology tedious. At a level, it reduces democracy to a savage farce of a triumph of numbers over ideas, ideals, even philosophy. But the times we live in makes it a necessary evil and like everybody else, I give that evil its due. I consume psephological data at a bare minimum: I abhor trend-spotting, and analysis of every vote polled and every seat won or lost or retained. Out of the wisdom gleaned from experience, I’ve placed my faith in the historical sense and it has served me well. In this case—I know it’s easy to say this in hindsight but it’s true—I was fairly sure that Uttar Pradesh would go to the Samajwadi Party and Goa, to the BJP. I didn’t pay much attention to the three other states that went to polls. As far as these two states are concerned, there was simply no other way it could have happened.
First, Uttar Pradesh: I won’t peddle the now-familiar and banal media and pundit-theories about castes and formations and campaign strategies for a very fundamental reason, which has to do with the nature of politics that’s in vogue. It’s the politics of divide and rule. It’s the politics of deception, which has been elevated to an art form to such a vile degree of refinement that everybody has taken it for granted and nobody even questions it anymore.
Needless, it is the Congress party that sowed the seeds of this deception whose harvest it reaped till that fatal and irreversible defeat in 1989 at the hands of the same Mulayam Singh Yadav (then Janata Dal), whose party (now, SP) won so spectacularly today. However, Mulayam’s tenure back then was short-lived in face of the wave of resurgent Hinduism that altered the entire political landscape as well as because the Congress party yanked the rug off under poor Chandrashekar’s feet in Delhi. And then it was the BJP’s turn at the UP helm. If the Congress party lost due to sheer arrogance—as is its wont pretty much whenever and wherever it’s in power—the BJP lost due to infighting and its penchant for scoring self-goals. Forget Chief Ministership, it never returned anywhere close to electoral respectability after 2002. Ever since, UP became a football alternating between the BSP and SP. In other words, the two national parties were rendered irrelevant in a state that gave India most of its Prime Ministers. This mini history lesson holds an important instruction: both the BSP and SP needed some 15 years to groom themselves. Once that was done, they had perfected the art of gaming the numbers-system in UP in a way the Congress and the BJP hadn’t done and are unlikely to do anytime in the near future. The comparison of UP to Tamil Nadu is both fair and warranted: in TN, this numbers-game had been perfected more than three decades ago largely because the “Dravidian(sic)” identity brainwashing had begun in pre-Independence days followed by the anti-Hindi (which translated to anti-Congress) agitation and the rest. The SP and BSP script was different, tailored to local climatic conditions. Thus, it doesn’t matter that Mayawati is voted in because the UP junta was fed up of Mulayam’s goonda raj and the same junta votes her out because she’s perceived as arrogant and megalomaniacal. Thus, it doesn’t matter that the same goonda raj was in full display today, the very day SP won. As for the national parties, the BJP simply wasn’t in the reckoning while the Congress party was smashed to bits in both its home grounds: Rae Bareli and Amethi.
Now, Goa is a state that holds a record for political instability with 14 governments in 15 years. Yet, it voted in an indisputably clean Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister only to lose him to the Congress party’s practiced skullduggery. For which the people of and Mother Nature in Goa paid dearly. The gory story of the rape and loot of Goa under the active watch of the Congress party is only too well-known to repeat here. It would have been a surprise if the result was anything less than an absolute rout of the Congress party.
Which brings us to the arch-villain of these Assembly elections: the English media. The English media no longer cares for things like shame simply because it knows that the public knows that it’s firmly on the Dynasty’s side. So it went right ahead and campaigned for the Congress party. Right from cleaning up after Rahul’s mess as early as during the Bhatta Parsaul episode. And then when he landed from that perfumed Pushpakcopter, it opened fire and assaulted us relentlessly, sans a commercial break, making it appear as though the UP elections was only about His Impending Coronation. Like I’ve always maintained, if you thought something was the lowest that anybody could plumb, the media manages to prove you wrong every single time. And so we ransacked the lexicon to find an appropriate word to describe a Sheela Bhatt who wrote stuff about how Priyanka Gandhi is:
…the fair-skinned, graceful, lady from the Nehru-Gandhi family….the most charismatic member of the first family of the Congress party. She is sheer magic when seen through the eyes of a television camera in news footage…Her slim figure, her flawless European skin tone, her thick black hair and her resemblance to her grandmother Indira Gandhi is accentuated by the camera and loved by the television viewing urban middle-class. Every time she is shown on television screens, the myth around her deepens…No doubt, through the camera lens, she emerges as the beautiful mix of grace, wisdom and spontaneity. Her charm is evident when she responds to television journalists’ nagging questions.
And when the lexicon gave up on us, the next involuntary response was…well, the word starts with “V” and its synonymn starts with “P.” In UP 2012 polls, no other party existed. Hell, no other Congress party candidate existed for these paid pen-pushers who committed journalistic perjury right from the poll run-up to today. What these pen-pushing party pamphleteers didn’t disclose was the fact that the Congress party’s fate was sealed the day those “backward” village women questioned the selfsame slim-figured, fair-skinned, black-haired embodiment of Nehru-Gandhi Family charisma, “kaa bitiya teen saal ke baad aai ho phir teen saal ke baad aaogi?”
If there’s anything you need to praise the media for, it is its well-honed capability for dressing up denial as fact. The media has successfully kept the Congress party in denial mode about its weakness and failings, the standard hallmarks of an accomplished sycophant. Thus, despite Rahul Gandhi’s belated—and fake—admission that the UP defeat was his responsibility, the media will manage to find a yarn that will tie the Congress party’s rout in UP to Narendra Modi.
It is this infinite capacity for denial that blinds the media to Manohar Parrikar’s deserved victory. Goa is the only state to post a record voting turnout of 81%. It is also the state where the BJP fielded 5 Christian candidates, all victorious. Manohar Parrikar is the exactly the kind of man that the media loves: the only IIT graduate set to become Chief Minister for a fourth term. He is cultivated and non-corrupt with a record of good governance. Oh and he speaks English. Yet, all he—and Goa—gets is a perfunctory “electoral victory” coverage while the Prince’s grief is mourned as a national tragedy (earlier today, Barkha Dutt was almost choking at Rahul Gandhi’s plight). No prizes for guessing why.
Now you see why I said psephology reduces democracy to a savage farce of a triumph of numbers over ideas and ideals? Corrupt but powerful losers find handmaidens who make sorry excuses on their behalf. Goonda Raj returns in the garb of electoral victory. Genuine do-gooders get ignored. The nation loses yet again.