Dear Mr LK Advani,
Many thanks for the recent email from your communications team asking me to be a part of the ‘Bloggers for Advani’ programme. Your team then clarified that all I had to do was host a nice, round orange badge on my blog to convey that I supported your political platform and beliefs.
I appreciate your team for your efforts in reaching across to bloggers like me and using the Internet as part of your campaign plan. Most bloggers, let me assure you, are aware of the insignificance of our constituency. We may get an inordinate amount of media coverage in this country, but some numbers indicate that there are perhaps only 50,000 active bloggers in this country. So while we can generate a mighty run on the market for pink panties, by ourselves, we are powerless to vote a party to power.
By reaching out to bloggers, and by blogging yourself, you are also trying to reach out to the 100 million or so first-time voters in this country. Brought up on a healthy dose of cynicism for politics and politicians all their lives, these young people exercise their right to vote with little enthusiasm. By using a democratic and transparent platform like a blog, you perhaps wish to energise them into political action.
But most of all, perhaps you are inspired by Barack Obama’s use of the Internet. His web presence helped him raise money and spur campuses. Young people came out to volunteer, organise and work for the campaign.
However, sir, this is why I will not participate in the ‘Bloggers for Advani’ programme just yet. As a relatively young Indian, I want to see an end to the style of senseless politics that brings bags of money into Parliament or takes Ram Gopal Varma to the Taj hotel on a field trip. As a young Indian I don’t want to see Yuva Morcha workers ransack Nagpur University to protest the poor infrastructure. (I hope you see the bleak irony in this.) And most of all, I want to see an end to the name calling and finger pointing that passes off as political debate in the country.
Your home page seethes with anti-Congress venom. One survey asks people to email you how the declining economy and a government in denial is affecting their lives. Another news item calls the Bharat Nirman scheme propaganda. The first news item on display is a laundry list of complaints against the Congress. When you’ve so cleverly changed the playing field, why don’t you change the game as well?
Obama’s greatest success perhaps was infusing his nation with optimism even during a period of great economic crisis. With your blog and your website, you have the power to do that. You have an opportunity to finally give Indian the positive approach to debate and politics that we have long missed. And even if you can’t do it nationally, you can do it on your blog. Talk about your hopes and aspirations. About what you will do to make this a better country. Tell us how young people can help you. Convince us of the vision you have for this country.
But most of all, Mr Advani, realise that blogs are so 2007. We are all on Twitter now.
(Sidin Vadukut writes for Mint and blogs at whatay.com)