A day back, while passing by the famous capitol chauraha in lucknow ( home for protests, rallies et al ) I took a min to listen to this gentleman blasting into a microphone to a handful of bemused people in his front, not knowing exactly what he was lookin at. Till I realized ..the speech was not for the people standing or the passing traffic ,it was for the shutterbugs!! Indian politicians, taking a cue from their American counterparts, have finally embraced TV full on and accepted it as a potent force in furthering their motives.
And all this for a billion watchful eyes,people ready to lap it all up. When scrutinized closely, It becomes abundantly clear that elections 2009 has been fought on two fronts…one on the grass roots and one on television…and we cant take the television bit casually.
Picture this. Six tux- clad men, sitting with a serene smile on their faces and the energy of a 100 watt bulb, ready to discuss/analyse /dissect every info that comes their way…don’t mistake it for a corporate boardroom, coz Rajdeep sardesi is chairing this meet ,in the glitzy studio of CNN IBN. Shoe throwing aside, elections 2009 have had more than its share of theatrics ,verbal duels, hate mongering, animated discussions, round the clock rallies, and a lot of audacious oratory. Be it the hate spewing varun gandhi, the recluse-turned-media savvy rahul or the ferocious mamata, we have weathered them all, and with great willingness. Its election time after all! elections 2009,the biggest reality show of the season( IPL 2 comes a close second) underway, Indian TV is flooded with polling bytes pouring in from all over the country, vying for our attention with a substantial chunk of our population sitting to devour every word.For some its serious business while for many (like my neighbourhood aunty )it is about what priyanka came wearing to the poll booth that makes for interesting tea time discussions. and amidst all this hullabaloo, one cannot help realize the drastic change which has occurred over the years because of news proliferation. Even though turnouts have remained elusive (with the bourgeoisie clearly not inclined to leave the comforts of their homes for a walk in the scorching sun to the nearest polling booth), there is no denying that there has been a steady rise in viewership of news channels, with an average family spending no less than an hour swinging between English and hindi news channels. Elections have become the biggest media extravaganza with viewers consuming more news than ever before. with each passing incident be it 9/11,26/11 attack on mumbai, the average man’s appetite for news has only risen further .The fourth phase of polling coming to an end, and channels bombarding images of celebrities/politicians/junta flashing that scarred finger at you( an obscene, offensive gesture in most parts of the world ;)), its only a few days more before the exit polls galore( another poll exercise minting a million TRPs for ever y channel worth its salt) kicks in.Whatever be the outcome, the news channel wallahs are certainly going to enjoy their ride to the bank 🙂