New Delhi: “Voter: someone clever enough to choose how to be fooled.”
Lok Sabha election-2019 is probably more important than any other that Independent India has seen as this will lay the foundation of the idea of India that we want.
All because, the elections, (call me cynical or Anti-National), are being fought more on “Rhetoric and Jumla” than development.
The elections of 2014 were held amidst a promise of hope and high expectations, where, after a long time, a politician, whose political DNA is fundamentally religious bigotry, promised ‘Inclusive development”.
He made inclusive development the core plank of his election campaign. Not caste or religion or Nationalism or Patriotism, but a simple and powerful promise – of making everyone’s life a bit better and weeding out corruption.
In 2014 campaign, the mood of the nation was captured by the high expectations we had of the politician who promised “Hope”.
Five years later what is the ‘Sab Ka Saath-Sab ka Vikaas” scorecard of his government?
The last five years, this country witnessed “Over Promise-Under Deliver” and “ More Rhetoric- Less Substance”.
The political discourse of last five years pushed us into a dilemma on whether our country is “a secular, socialist, democratic republic”.
The Nationalist rhetoric has replaced the heterogenic nature of the society where democratic dissent is being trolled as “Anti-National”.
That is a terse summary of the “Sab ka Saath-Sab ka Vikas”( With All-Progress of All) outcome of the last five years as we approach the general election.
This election, thus, five years on, will not be fought on development.
They are going to be a contest between those trying to polarize the nation blinded by the Rhetoric of Nationalism and those aspiring to build one India.
What we witnessed in the last five years is “Jumla after Jumla” with more sizzle and show.
The country remained the same as it was in 2014, only to be constantly brainwashed over the “70 years of Congress’ misrule” without claims of any change he promised to change the plight of the people.
The leader appeared a jarring broken record that plays on same, wherein, instead of highlighting on the achievements of his government, he is harping on what the now dead regimes had done right from the year of Independence.
For every crisis, he has only one answer- 70 Years of Congress’ misrule…..Because he has nothing new to say nor he has any achievement to claim.
He has nothing substantial to say on the biggest issues that India is grappling with: rural distress and unemployment, instead, his campaign entirely revolves around denigrating the opposition of being anti-national and Pro-Pakistan, conveniently ignoring his failures to meet the high expectations he created in 2014.
He even managed to expose his hypocrisy on gender and of his much hyped “Beti Bachao-Beti Padao” campaign.
He defended the shameful developments in Sabarimala by saying it is a matter of tradition, while linking Triple Talaaq to equality.
The main Plank of Vikaas (Development) of 2104 is replaced with Bakwaas (Bullshit), wherein, caste, regional factors, personal attacks, revoking history, everything that has nothing to do with his so called “Sab ka Saath Sab Ka Vikaas”(With all-Development of All) — have become important issues of his election campaign.
His campaign, so far, is not much in terms of his achievements so far, except, dishing out rhetorical slogans and acronyms and keep harping on the supposed mess created by the Congress.
In 2014, he had a better narrative than his opponents. To the electorate, pushed back to the walls by non-performing government at the centre, his promise of “Achche Din” made more sense.
The present campaign seemed to have taken off from where it ended in 2014.
The tone and tenor sound desperation. There are less calls for Vikaas (development), but aspiration for more invective rhetoric from the leader himself.
It was a more personalized campaign against his rivals, throwing focus on transformative oratory to the winds.
Instead of presenting a simple yet convincing narrative, he is desperately resorting to cheap personalized statements, and getting reduced to making the same mistake which his opponents did in 2014- run anti-campaign.
Why? What has changed?
The answer is very simple: He has realized that his “Rehotirc and Jumlas” are no more convincing the electorate.
Promises of employment are substituted by advice to youth to Pakoda selling, setting up of Pan Shops.
Recovery of black money is replaced by push for forcing the public to go for credit card economy and created distrust of the people on banking system.
‘Make in India’, ‘Smart City’, bullet train, river linking are all projects that exist only on paper.
He seems to be the only leader of the country since independent India who uses his emotions smartly to make masses believe of his action rather than the substance of the actions.
In fact, nationalism/patriotism has become planks of vicious propaganda where sacrifices of the soldiers are being used as vote catching tools.
For the last five years, the politician who promised hope in 2014 appeared more a “Propaganda Guru” than a “Vikas Purush”.
He realized that electoral democracy, like Bollywood, loved fictions and punch dialogues. It gorged on B-grade sentimentality, was carnivorous about populist fables like his chaiwala story to Chowkidaar narrative, and enacted scripts to cater to this need for everyday myth.
He understood propaganda better than his critics did.
It was not ideology that he mastered but the power of communication systems with creation of more acronyms, where saying becomes a form of doing, where the articulation of a mere rhetoric with shrills evokes a sense of competence.
Therefore, the moot question is can’t India do without “Rhetoric and Jumla” in 2019?