Friday, February 6, 2015

Silence of the Hams

It was a usual morning. I rushed down to the car, a half-eaten toast in one hand and a shoe in the other, looking at my watch and swearing at the cook who, with uncharacteristic diligence, took half an hour extra to prepare the gruel in the morning. I reached the car, managed to eat the toast and wear the shoe, instead of the other way round. Took a deep breath, slipped on my seat belt and started the car. The radio was on and an unfamiliar sound came to my ears. It sounded…it sounded like music. Panicking, I switched to the next station – music again; the next – music. I was in full blown panic now, I rushed through all the stations – all playing music.

The horror…the horror.

Where were the AAM Admi party advertisements, where was the bellowing sound of Modi screaming as he made promise after promise, where was Kiran Bedi, embarking on the ‘Vikas ka path’, hell, where was Ajay Maken quietly slipping in the message about the roads and metro in Delhi?

And then it struck me, the Delhi elections are scheduled for tomorrow and campaigning deadline has passed. The panic turned to relief, then jubilation.

Seriously, have you been listening to the radio in the past month or so? It has been an unending stream of political ads. From the basic ‘vote for me’ ads to hardcore negative ads about other parties, other candidates and their families, hell nothing has been taboo in this election.

The importance of these elections is understandable, everyone thought that AAP was done for and the normal two-large-party model would continue again. There is a certain comfort in having a known enemy Рyou know what to do and say - sanity prevails. But like a phoenix (to use a clich̩) the AAP is threatening to disrupt the status quo again. Both large parties do not like a third element coming into the fray, an element that threatens their next ten year plans. The difference is that one party already knows that it has lost and is cutting its losses. The other party, on the other hand, considers the Delhi seat a cherry on the cake and is going full throttle to make it theirs. The AAP, after its national experiment failed spectacularly, is in a struggle for survival and relevance. The charitable would also call it their crusade to ensure that the common man prevails.

All this means that the might of two parties and their supporters has  manifested into a marketing campaign of utmost proportions. And just like Indian cuisine, the campaign spices and flavors are overboard; and just like Indian soaps, the campaign acting is ham and loud; and just like an Indian cricket fan, the campaign emotions are wide and strong.

And this means that for the last couple of months all marketing channels have been crammed with messages. It has become so much that the noise has become overwhelming. Radio is just one example, but even the print media seems to have a single point agenda – print as many political ads as possible. Make sure the ad revenues go sky high. Television, especially news channels, have gone so blatant that it is comically obvious which channel owes allegiance to which political party.

It is dirty out there. And it is quite depressing, that this is the type of campaign that works in our country.

I, for one, am glad the campaigning is over. Maybe now we may get a chance to sit back and think. Beyond the overload of messages, to the messages themselves. Who will be right for Delhi? Who would actually help with the little niggles and major pains that we deal with on a regular basis?

Whatever you think, do vote. Maybe the next campaign would be less crass and overpowering…