21 September, 2020

The Bappi Jhappi Mela

TV screens are the battlefields. Spin doctors, the cure. Where's the good 'ol election fever gone?

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Bappi Jhappi Mela
Ageneral election in India has historically been a great democratic spectacle. It evoked thunder, light and fury amid bright splashes of colour. The people of the world’s largest democracy were the pivot around whom the entire process revolved. Mass contact, fiery speeches and slogans about poverty, corruption and social change were the stuff of Indian elections. Democracy never appeared divorced from the people. For all its imperfections, the system held out the promise of social transformation and change. But election 2004 is different from every electoral battle of the past. On the face of it, there is the obvious trivialisation of the proceedings. Filmstars, cricketers and starlets being lined up by the political parties can hardly make for meaningful discourse. Devoid of any focus on real issues, politics has become a performing art with a farcical edge and electioneering is turning dumb and dumber by the day.

The media too has added to the frivolity. Former BBC man Mark Tully who has covered Indian elections for 30 years believes "the electronic media will kill...



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