So the day belonged to two women who were all over our TV sets on Friday, both having won massive electoral victories in their home states. Mamatadi won the battle for West Bengal but didn’t appear in person on TV till much later in the day (when she said she was “humbled” by the scale of her victory and called it the “second independence day”).
Instead, for most of the morning, she relayed her instructions to the peepol (her partymen and women) through some other peepol (also her partymen and women). Her supporters were told to celebrate only by singing Tagore songs and throwing green aabir in the air. A far cry from the lady’s own, er, rather tempestuous street style of celebrating or protesting. A visibly downcast Nilotpal Basu of the CPM appeared on NDTV 24x7 on Friday morning and bravely spoke of “reversing some trends” even at a time when Trinamool had won 200 seats. “Not won, these are leads, leads,” he corrected Prannoy Roy, at the same time looking even more downcast. When asked about a “central” reason why the CPM lost, he declined to answer, declaring that political parties didn’t function according to the demands of 24x7 channels. (Really?)
In contrast, when CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjaan appeared on CNN-IBN much later in the day, he was combative and aggressive, and didn’t appear at all inclined to “introspect” as suggested repeatedly by Sagarika. He got into a heated war of words with journalist Subir Bhowmick who looked ready to explode with anger. “Your getting angry will not affect my health,” declared Atul Kumar Anjaan — a mystifying statement, if there ever was one.
In Jayalalitha’s home state of Tamil Nadu, party workers celebrated with firecrackers outside her house, eagerly awaiting her darshan. Finally Jayalalitha relented, first appearing on the balcony of her home, waving regally to the crowds below and then for a press conference (where initially she was hidden behind the bank of microphones). Beatific as always, she spoke in her usual measured Convent-school manner. The two women were a study in contrast, Mamatadi wrapped in her crumpled white sari, volatile, the words tripping over each other as she spoke. And Jayalalitha in her carefully draped maroon sari, looking calm and unflappable, placid even.
The other winners, such as Tarun Gogoi in Assam, who will be chief minister for the third time, quite paled into insignificance in front of these two. Though he popped up on news channels, fielding questions on corruption, on Assam being perceived as a “disturbed state” and so on, the day clearly belonged to J and M. Exciting times ahead in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
And finally. To change the mood totally: At the moment, IPL cheerleaders are more visible in the news than on our TV screens. I believe they are on the field in all the matches, but how can one be sure? Because the cameras hardly ever show them. The cheerleaders are supposed to cheerily kick their legs in the air and do a little shake and swing their pom poms every time someone from their team hits a four or six or takes a wicket. But the instant one of these three things happens, Set Max (the channel on which the IPL is being shown) instantly switches, not to the cheerleaders, but to commercials.
Once in a way, we see the girls doing their number for about two seconds (and I mean literally two seconds), but otherwise they may as well not be there. Where they are highly visible is in the Set Max studio.