12 May, 2021

Lear’s Last, Babu Bhai’s First Foray

A seasoned politician and a seasoned actor seek votes, one on his own steam, the other on Modi’s

Mayur Bhatt
Lear’s Last, Babu Bhai’s First Foray

It’s an Indian election finally. Even amid this dead-serious business of choosing the next government, it’s hard to keep away the quaint filmi touch. So old patriotic favourites like Mere desh ki dharti, Apni azadi ko hum and Chhodo kal ki baatein blare out loud, minutes before veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani gets talking to the ‘buddhijeevi’ and ‘prabuddha naga­rik’ (intellectuals and enlightened citizenry) of his constituency, Gandhina­gar, at the Rajnath Club. In his patented formal Hindi, he holds forth on having been a witness or a participant in every general election since 1952. He talks of the ballot system in the 1952 elections, how it changed over the years and how it’s imperative to make voting compulsory. As his speech winds on, a palpable restlessness builds in the air, manifesting itself in loud murmurs, incessant impolite chatter, stifled giggles and claps. Soon, this breaks out into full-fledged Modi sloganeering from scarf-clad BJP workers, clearly in a mood to drown out Advani’s nostalgia...

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