Two unusual questions will addle Indians till this year’s general elections are over. One, how many more of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches will we have to endure; and two, the number of times Rahul Gandhi will parrot the same allegations. Surely, all the bhashanbaazi is getting irksome and we need respite.
Modi has been in election mode since he took over in 2014, relentlessly drilling into our heads his own achievements and the failures of others. It will qualify as the longest re-election campaign in history. And boy, does he love his own voice! Count the number of times he makes speeches and keeps repeating himself. His talent in this sphere is unmistakable and obviously, he loves exercising his vocal chords. But then how much of it can one take? It is like a friend who is good at singing breaking into a song on every occasion. It gets on your nerves. When he starts off yet again, the only expression you have is, ‘Please, not again!’
Hope no one begins the slogan ‘chowkidar bore hai’.
Rahul won’t let go of Rafael. He will not stop the chowkidar-chor jibe at Modi either. It is the same with recovered black money not being deposited in accounts of people. His speeches are precariously short of variety, novelty and entertainment quotient. His case is made worse by the lack of gift for public speaking. He pulls up his sleeves for effect, but no, it does not quite work. His pugnacious words are not matched by the right body language. Modi would have been a good teacher, but in our politically fraught times, such a possibility is out of question. Will he grow up as a speaker someday? Well, he might. Till he does, we have to grimace, smirk and yawn through his speeches. And occasionally ponder over the relevance of the Pappu tag slapped on him.
Imagine both going hyper in the run-up to the elections. Get ready for the aural assault.
Priyanka’s entry is good news. Not because she brings anything politically substantial with her, but because she offers a break from Prime Minister Modi and brother Rahul. For an audience suffering fatigue of both, she will be the much-desired change. No one has heard her make a full-length speech but as the rumour goes, she is much more pleasant in her public communication. And she seems to have a sense of humour, a quality seriously missing in present-day politicians. Modi is good at being sarcastic and mocking rivals. But that hardly qualifies as humour. Rahul’s ability in this area counts to zilch. If Priyanka manages to take the faux seriousness out of politics and provides it a human touch through a few laughs, it would be a great relief for us all.
The election of 2019 promises to be not one big fight between top two contenders, but several fights involving many players. Someone said rather accurately: it’s going to be 543 different elections with different issues, equations and contestants in play. So, the states are where the action will be. That promises some fun. But with the likes of Lalu absent in action, the fun quotient may be down several notches. Everyone is so serious these days! Blame it on Modi. He made winning elections such a life-and-death matter.
Will Naveen Patnaik make elections in Odisha more interesting by being just a normal politician? Fat chance. Even in normal times, he is serious. He speaks more English and less Odia to an Odia crowd for years now, not too energetic even by his most ardent fans. With continuous assault from the likes of Modi and Amit Shah, he may get even more reserved with words.
Add to the cheerlessness around the unholy noise of the television anchors, panelists and party spokespersons. As it is, they have become unbearable; in the coming months expect them to drive noise pollution many notches higher through overspeaking, overdramatics, overexcitedness and in general, overkill.
Is there hope for an escape? Well, no. You can try switching off news channels for a few months though.
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