Get Inked | Verve Magazine
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April 17, 2014

Get Inked

Text by Nittal Chandarana. Illustration by Wyanet Vaz

Politics is not a dirty word. If it concerns our nation, it definitely concerns us. A total of 81.45 crore people are eligible to vote this time around. Don’t YOU want to be in on this?

Enough has been said and printed about this 16th Lok Sabha election. Campaigning has been going on with full force. People have picked their favourites. Or the ‘lesser of the two evils’ as some might put it. The general elections that have begun on April 7 and are going to be conducted in nine phases have the distinction of covering the longest time-span in the history of elections. Television, Internet memes, stand-up comedians and enough average Indian citizens have done their bit to elevate and tarnish the image of the party they support or the neta they hate.

What’s the scene?
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) championed by the Congress and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with front-runner BJP, has enjoyed a rivalry of eight years since the formation of the UPA. The Third Front constitutes parties embracing a communist ideology. Multiple parties and impractical division of votes make the formation of such alliances crucial. It’s a widely known fact that the Congress has put forth Rahul Gandhi as their prime ministerial candidate while the BJP’s chosen man for the job is Narendra Modi. More on that later. The whole UPA-NDA dynamic was brutally shaken when Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) decided to make its presence felt. A new entity attempting to usurp the current reign. A self-proclaimed champion of the common man; readily backed by the common man. A cry for justice. But can the fate of a nation really be put in the hands of a party formed just a few months ago? Here’s a succinct account of the two politico moguls who’ve been at it for years and the latest entry. Kane and Abel, take a backseat.

Quick look at the oldies

Who Indian National Congress
Alliance UPA
He’s the man Rahul Gandhi
So much drama Bofors scandal, Commonwealth Games scam, 2G spectrum scam, article 377…
We are the champions RTI Bill, upliftment of minorities, women’s progress.

 Bharatiya Janata Party
Alliance NDA
He’s the man Narendra Modi
So much drama Tehelka Scam, UTI scam, Gujarat riots…
We are the champions Golden Quadrilateral, Nuclear development

Balloting further

The Congress-led UPA often relies on the loyalty factor. There are many who have voted for the Congress since India was proclaimed independent, and refuse to budge. This time, current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to step down from his post in the event that the UPA does win a majority. Enter Rahul Gandhi. The man has been bludgeoned by Internet hate and the interview with Arnab Goswami did nothing to increase his credibility. The Congress manifesto is clear: women empowerment, opportunities for the youth, health and pension programmes and…blackballing the BJP. (Don’t believe us? Check out the Fact Check page on their site.) Aside from this, the Bofors scandal, 2G gaffe, Commonwealth (Kalmadi probably took the name too literally) have all led to major loss of support for the once-revolutionary party.

The Bharatiya Janata Party isn’t clean either. NDA’s major party, BJP, is criticized for being aggressively nationalist and at times, unapologetically communal. The Godhra riots accusation hangs over Modi like a sword. Remarks made unwittingly by party members usher the party into the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Modi’s constant jabs, calling Rahul Gandhi a shehzada are in poor taste. But what he’s done for Gujarat is admirable. No one returns from the state unimpressed. The conscience of the people has been stirred. Many believe that if bringing the BJP into power can lead to change, then so be it.

The new arrivals are Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. Their manifesto and vision reminds us of the Gandhian days, that this is a party genuinely working for a cause. But it also stands not without controversy. Kejriwal’s separation from Anna Hazare earned him ample amount of criticism. The notorious dharna too received its share of flack. Can this new kid on the block stand up to political bigwigs?

An aside
1. You might have noticed that the newspaper you read (and we hope you do) slyly puts in little snippets of support for their preferred party. The election has, in fact, aided the media to fill in pages and pages of news. With our politicians providing fresh material of controversy every day, why wouldn’t they?

2. The elections have managed to usurp the IPL from its throne. A majority of the matches have been shifted to the UAE because security was denied for the tournament. But, the IIFA goes on. Bollywood folk will be making a beeline to another exotic location for even more song and dance.

3. The film fraternity and politics have a long-standing association. The most recent Twitter brawl between Kirron Kher for BJP and Gul Panag for AAP vying for the Chandigarh constituency created quite a stir. There’s also controversy’s child Rakhi Sawant forming her own party and independent candidate KRK demanding an in on the scene through incessant tweeting (which, by the way, is hilarious).

It was disappointing to type “scandal” in our search engine and see pages and pages of results on scams. Reforms, bills passed, change… zilch. Even the Internet was stumped for once. We’ve forgotten that our government exists for a purpose and not to serve as punch-line for every joke. Go look up the voting dates for your city today. Go vote. You owe it to yourself.

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