Sunday, January 12, 2014

Are You Ready for #VoterMania2014?

“Finally,” bellowed the announcer, “Arvind Kejriwal has come back to . . . Ramlila Maidan.” The crowd erupted with a huge cheer. They told him that this day wouldn’t come. They said that he would be a flash in the pan. They said that he was too insignificant to even be remembered as a historical footnote. Yet, here he was. Listening to the millions and millions of his supporters chanting his name. Arvind closed his eyes to soak in the moment. As he stepped up to the podium to take the oath of office, the noise was deafening. They could probably hear the happy roar of the crowd in the secure confines of a fancy bungalow in Janpath as well as the state capital of Gujarat. He smiled. From now on, he would be known as the most electrifying man in Indian politics. After everything was going to be said and done. After all the smoke will be cleared. There would only be one man left standing. And he will be none other than the trail blazing, Shiela Dikshit defeating, morning ablutions tweeting, muffler wearing, people’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal.

* * *

Previously, when we checked in with the people of New Delhi, they were busy haggling over who would get to play their chief minister and pretend to solve their problems. Since Shiela Dikshit had retired to spend more time with all the flyover models in her house and no one else had come forward to take her place, the city was being run by an empty bottle of imported whiskey. The Lt. Governor was so desperate to find a human administrator for the city that he even contemplated going old-school and settling the dispute as they used to do in ancient times: hosting a butter chicken eating contest and awarding the chief ministership to the winner of the contest. 

This situation came about because none of the parties in the legislature were in a position to form the government. In fact, in a first for electoral democracy, all the three parties wanted to sit in the opposition. The BJP fulfilled its election promise of providing strong leadership by refusing to even attempt to form the government, even though it was the party with the most legislators. The AAP didn’t want to form the government because (a) it wasn’t in the mood, (b) it had a headache and (c) it probably had too much wine at dinner, was very tired and all it wanted to do was go to sleep so would you please switch off the light, honey? The tiny group of legislators that belonged to the Congress were busy wondering what they were doing in the assembly anyway.

That question was answered a fortnight later when after days of goading by its political opponents, the news media, and its supporters, the AAP finally agreed to form the government with outside support from the Congress. Our national nightmare was finally over! The city with the highest number of government officials in the country was going to get another half dozen of them!

So history was made and thousands of people watched Arvind Kejriwal take the oath of office and become the first resident of Ghaziabad to become the Chief Minister of New Delhi. Never before had so many people gathered together in a single venue without any food stalls in the vicinity. The stage Kejriwal took the oath on was made of wood, concrete, Anna Hazara’s crumbled hopes, Harsh Vardhan’s tears and faux piousness.

In a month’s time, Arvind Kejriwal had gone from flash-in-the-pan-do-gooder, to being labelled as the most omnipotent force in Indian politics. He became India’s newest boyfriend and/or saviour. His narrative was less expert politician and more vanquishing hero. It’s like something out of a wrestling storyline. An unknown man comes out of nowhere and issues a challenge to the more established candidates. They mock him and act like he is no threat to them even though they’re really worried of losing their position. They try to stop him by any means necessary. They throw every roadblock his way and make him go through every obstacle they can think of. Yet, he overcomes all of their challenges and despite the overwhelming odds, emerges victorious and wins the championship. Even Vince McMahon couldn’t come up with something better.

So, now, everyone wants to be his friend. Social activists, people pretending to be social activists, actors, billionaires, politicians not affiliated to any other political party right now, busybodies, journalists, children and grandchildren of freedom fighters, senior citizens who are also members of their local laughter club, adults who once wrote an essay in school about things that they would do if they were made the prime minister, and folks who love that Anil Kapoor movie in which he gets to be chief minister for one day. All of them are all lining up to join the AAP.

Since he’s the most popular kid in school now, the other political parties don’t know what to do with him. The BJP keeps trying to prove that whatever actions Kejriwal takes has been done by them before. We hated the Congress before it was cool. The BJP zombies on twitter who-till last month-were so goddamn sure of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister for life and their party winning all the parliamentary seats in general election are now spending the better part of their day fruitlessly trying to prove that Kejriwal is the worst thing to happen to the country since bollywood producers discovered Telugu movies. The Congress has a love-hate relationship with the AAP. They love them for taking away the ‘change’ mantle from the BJP. But they hate them for taking away the we’re-the-only-thing-standing-between-you-and-desi Putin mantle away from the Congress. However, they still have to pretend to like the AAP because Rahul Gandhi is fascinated by them. So they support the AAP with the same enthusiasm shown by children who are forced by their parents to accompany them on visits to older relatives who insist on discussing the strange rash on their pelvis during dinner.

So, ladies and gentlemen, that’s going to be your next few months. One man’s election campaign is going to be another man’s gladiatorial soap opera.

* * *

He stood on the stage and saw all his Modimaniacs looking at him with their expectant eyes, chanting his name, treating every word out of his mouth as a pronouncement from god. He smirked. Did anyone really think that they could stop his momentum? Or steal his thunder? There is no one out there that can even come close to inspiring the sort of devotion that he does. After all, he is the excellence of execution. The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. He is so close to taking what is rightly his that he can almost taste it.  All he needs to do is to keep reminding people to say their prayers and take their vitamins. His critics can do and say whatever they want. Haters gonna hate, right? The real question dear critics, he thought to himself, is that whatcha gonna do, brothers, when the Modimaniacs run wild on you?

No comments: