“Delete this scene, it will not serve my purpose,” a man instructs a computer operator busy editing a CD in a run-down computer centre in a dingy bylane of Pilibhit. The unwanted scene is the one in which Varun Gandhi is not making any inflammatory statements. The rough cut is quickly finalized, operator clicks Ok, hands over the Varun Pilibhit speech CD to the satisfied client and turns to the jostling crowd waiting on the bench in the next room.
The BJP, its rivals and mediapersons have made the Varun hate speech CD a chart-topper despite the sweet price tag of Rs 15,000. Of course, there’s room for bargaining. This reporter got two popular versions, after much haggling with Maqbool (who asked us if we were interested), for Rs 8,000 each.
“He is a BJP leader. He has ordered 200 copies,” said Maqbool pointing out a man staring at the three computer screens showing Varun’s Pilibhit footage in the computer centre.
“These CDs will be sent to the rural areas. We want to maintain the tempo of his campaign. Till he returns, we will use the CDs while campaigning,” said the BJP leader, who introduced himself only as Sanjay.
Jagdish Yadav, who claimed to be a Samajwadi Party man, placed an order for 150 copies. “The CDs must reach the party office by afternoon,” he said. “Now, Riyazbhai (the SP candidate) won’t have to visit the Muslim-dominated villages and localities. The CD will do the work.”
“The Congress has already procured 300 copies of the CD and distributed them in the constituency,” said Som Chaudhary, a leader of the party’s city unit.
The Pilibhit speech CD is not the only one in demand. There are recordings of public meetings addressed by Varun at Barkhera, Lauri Khera, and Bisalpur — all of which have aired on various news channels.
“I want a recording of the meeting at Puranpur, where Varun had attacked the Sikh community. Also, do you have footage of the Desh Nagar public meeting in which he had targeted minority community MLAs Arshad Khan, Riyaz Ahmed and Anis Ahmed Khan,” the other journalist, in search of his breaking news in the Pilibhit computer centre, asked Maqbool.