Fingers inked, selfies tweeted, records broken, Chandigarh has voted. But since we are still in the middle of our Election Kumbh that culminates in salvation on May 16, there’s no escaping the mania yet.
Don’t worry, though. This week’s column, too, may be about politics, but is not another political science lecture. We are not going to talk about democracy’s beauty or the ugliness of rhetoric. Nor is this about virtues of poverty and the taint of riches. No riots to forgive, no scams to criticise. Sorry, no talking about any of that. This is not a political science lecture, as I said.
This is a bit of fun around all that. In the true tradition of poll-fatigued, list-obsessed journalists, I’ve decided to draw up an A-Z of the election in Chandigarh and beyond. Let’s get right at it.
A: Advertisements. Waking up to Messiah Modi’s face has become such a routine that I wonder how I’d get my morning tea down once the polls are actually over. Rahul Gandhi’s ads, too, appearear some-sometimes, while the AAP says it doesn’t have the money for such ads. But if Narendra Modi does not appear as a full-page spread any of these days, you’d wonder if he’s even alive.
B: Bullet. Royal Enfield doesn’t advertise much, but The Beast again got a thumping endorsement from its long-time aficionado Gul Panag, the AAP candidate from Chandigarh. From being a milkman’s ride, to being identified with militancy in Punjab, and now the favourite of the spunkiest candidate in town, ‘ Bullt’ has come a long way. Yes, I have one too, bought on instalments.
C: Corruption. More than being sick of ccorruption, I am sick of the word too. Everyone is so hell-bent on ending this noble, enabling practice, that I’m worried I would have to stand in the queue the next time I go to submit the electricity bills. Paise le lo yaar, but please, no more.
D: Drama. Kirron Kher. Who else?
E: Extras. That’s what the local BJP leaders were reduced to, as Mrs Kher basked in the limelight.
F: The favourite word of Chandigarh BSP candidate Jannat Jahan begins with this letter. It ends with K.
G: Ghanta. As a stereotypical sociological experiment, I asked my favourite chaiwallah about what would change after we have a new government. Ghanta, he said. I can’t translate that.
H: Heavyweights. Kirron Kher in one sense, Pawan Bansal in another. Hallomajra — vote bank in one sense, TV’s poverty porn in another.
I: I, me, myself. That’s all this election has become on the agenda front. Everyone’s making the same promises, except a temple or something. So much so, that some of the bright, first-timer voters whom we love to call ‘the future of India’ think Modi is contesting from Chandigarh. Waise, he sort of is.
J: Jokes. I don’t know about awareness and all that jazz, but social media is certainly acting as comic relief. From Yo! Yo! Kejru Singh to Modi’s sudden marriage to Rahul Gandhi’s unintentional comedy, this part of the elections makes me wish the elections never get over.
K: Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal. The topic of every discussion, he is the Kim Kardashian, Che Guevara and Salman Khan of these elections.
L: Local connect. Given that Gul and Kirron are mostly in Bombay, ‘local connect’ was the favourite term of Pawan Bansal’s campaign strategists. Even on the voting day, I got this SMS: “Where will you go to get your work done? Delhi, Mumbai, or Sector 28? Choose your own… choose a local.” Sector 28 is also the place to go if you are an officer willing to give ` 90 lakh to a railway minister’s nephew for a plum posting.
M: Mummy. Kirron Kher. Who else?
N: Naïve. That’s what they called Gul Panag. Then, they met her.
O: Open Hand. In poll season, it resembles the Congress symbol. Not fair. Election Commission should take note and cover it like Mayawati’s elephants in Noida.
P: Politeness. Every time Gul and Kirron talked about each other, sugar dripped from their tongues, except on Twitter.
Q: Questions. Sadly, Bansal faced too few. Sadly, Gul and Kirron asked too few.
R: Roads. The issue that you find everywhere else across the region, but hardly in Chandigarh.
S: Savita Bhatti. Just not cut out for it.
T: Ticket. Kirron got it to silence the BJP infighting. Gul got it as a replacement after Savita Bhatti backed out, and Bansal got it despite everything.
U: Utopia. Kejriwal is striving for it. Rahul believes we are halfway there and the other half will take just a little while more. Modi has filed for trademark registration.
V: Villages and slums, the darlings of Chandigarh’s MP-hopefuls, for a month, every five years.
W: Women. Three of top four candidates in Chandigarh. A fact worth celebrating.
X: GenX. The much-hyped youth vote — overly passionate on Facebook, overly pragmatic off it.
Y: Youngistaan. A recent movie loosely and allegedly based on Rahul Gandhi. The fact that Jackky Bhagnani played the character says a lot. The movie flopped, obviously.
Z: Zilch and worse. What if Narendra Modi does not become the PM? Forget his fate, what will our country do? Who will feed our monsters? Who will save our souls? God, I fear the end of the world.