There’s a saying that the delight of presence is best known by the torments of absence. It could well be the other way round as far as the Delhi elections were concerned. For the last month, it has dominated our collective mindspace as media overkill made it a torment for everyone, by suggesting that the results in one state were more vital than the general elections last May. It may well be since the 24/7 television coverage never stopped reminding us how crucial these elections were. Now that we have to bid goodbye to the drama and dramatists, it’s almost like the empty nest syndrome — the angry birds have flown, leaving a yawning gap in our lives. Here’s what we will miss the most.
The Anarchist: Almost as famous as Superman’s cape was Arvind Kejriwal’s muffler worn like someone with a perpetual and severe toothache. He will be missed the most as campaigner and rabble rouser. Post elections, the rabble can no longer be roused but in or out of office he always reminds us of Nirad C Chaudhuri’s Thy Hand, Great Anarch!, which was, incidentally, about Indian politics. The sight of that cap, below it the muffler and the accusing finger are images that will linger, along with the more durable one; of a politician who can find a problem for every solution.
The Gentler, Kinder Cop: It’s a crying shame we will no longer see Kiran Bedi as campaigner. She brought tears to many eyes, including her own. What we will miss the most are the many avatars she assumed on the campaign trail: mother, sister, daughter, protector, facilitator, town crier and tough cop with a golden heart. It was like being on a love jihad. She was also chief sycophant considering the words she used to describe her chief patron, Narendra Modi (“world’s most beautiful face”). Her campaign style was not to everyone’s taste; one political analyst described it as “sanitised self-righteousness”. She may have also been a wet blanket for other aspirants in the party, but it is that wet handkerchief which has cemented her reputation as a drama queen.
The TV Debates: No other state election has witnessed so many reporters and so many studio guests become overnight experts on so many issues; the future of Bedi, the future of Kejriwal, the future of Rahul Gandhi, the future of black money, the future of politics, the future of Delhi, the future of India, the future of TV debates, all seemingly intertwined. Once the Talking Heads turned into Screaming Heads, the debate was lost in the din, but here’s the miracle — we didn’t miss a word.
The Terminator: He will, of course, be around to remind us of how great the country has become under the current dispensation, but on the Delhi campaign trail, Modi’s chest thumping on that 56-inch drum was lethal: he first called Kejriwal ‘AK 49’, a reference to his truncated stint as chief minister, and then an anarchist, a title the target considers a compliment, and finally dared him to an ice bucket challenge. To many that sounded like a case of cold feet.
The Also-Ran: Ajay Maken may have been a case of the maken the wrong move but he did put up a brave face and entertained us mightily with his stories of what a mighty inspiration Rahul is, an expert on foreign policy, urban development, poverty alleviation, political science, et al. He forgot to mention the other category that may come into play post this election — history.