The best and the worst stories from the election that was- from women parliamentarians to Arnab Goswami vs Barkha Dutt
It’s finished. The elections are over. The results are out. The 24 hour news coverage is done and dusted with and kept away in a shelf for the next five years. Everything (almost) is back to normal. Twitter has reverted to talking about Tiger Shroff instead of Narendra Modi. Arnab has swallowed a pack of lozenges and retreated to his man cave to rest before he spews his righteous outrage on us again. And our Facebook feed has returned to gurgling babies once more, instead of the belligerent adults throwing up all over it.
In the meanwhile, here is a round-up of the talking points we found most interesting from Elections 2014.
None of the Above: 57.7 lakh people voted for the None of the Above option in their ballots, making NoTA the 18th largest “party” in the nation. That’s more vote than CPI from the Far Left received, and for that we are grateful.
Womenfolk: 61 women were elected into the parliament this year, the highest number ever. We’ve complained in the past about the abysmal number of women candidates fielded by most of the large national parties. So this development leaves us feeling a bit hopeful. Baby steps, people. Also good news, the handy defeat of Sharad Yadav, a man who has openly admitted to chasing women with the classic “nothing wrong with it” argument.
Celebrity Candidates: For the celebrities the equation was simple. If they belonged to BJP they won their constituency. If not, they didn’t. The one notable exception to this rule? Even all that bling and a Modi aashirvaad couldn’t convince the electorate that Bappi da was an able representative for their constituency! Speaking of celebrities, Mohammed Kaif fought an elections, seriously?
The Media Report Card: Tough day for the news channels on the vote counting day. With no intrigue in the race to Race Course Road, they had to resort to terrible filler segments and loud voices to make up for substance. Throughout the elections, our media has suffered from a lack of editorial voice- opting instead to run for the stories likely to generate the highest TRPs. That’s probably why you probably heard more about Rakhi Sawant’s Rashtriya Aam Party than you did about the tangible manifestos of any of the candidates. Their blatant hunger for sensationalism has led to a situation where we are unsure whether they are playing with us with their flimsy reportage, or merely being played themselves by the money and nous of the smarter political parties. Having said that, we have to give them kudos for keeping things entertaining on the day of the counting.
- Times Now wins everything and more for Arnab’s special brand of crazy, and for his trusty sidekick (whose name we refuse to learn) with his valiant efforts to get a word in.
- NDTV gets our vote for trying very hard to make “Man of the Match” Amit Shah a thing – just repeating a silly phrase a million times doesn’t suddenly make it sound important, does it?
- We also remain grateful to Barkha Dutt for daring to bring the scoop that no one else would touch with a barge pole- did you know that “ONE LAKH” laddoos were shared at the BJP Headquarters on results day?
- But the true winner in this Election remains Aaj Tak which had a dancing Modi gif celebrate every result in, while the sheepish Rahul Gandhi gif looked on. We’d like to think they had different versions on hand should the results have moved in the opposite direction, but I guess we won’t find out for a while now, will we?
Ageism: The youngest electorate in the country selected the oldest Parliament ever. 255 of the MPs are more than 55 years old this time. Why you have so many daddy issues voters? In an interesting parallel, Narendra Modi is our first PM- elect born after the Independence.
Your Winners People!: There is no nice way to spin this. 34% of the candidates we’ve elected have criminal cases against them, 21% of those for major crimes.
And finally a slow clap is in order for both the Election Commissioners and the tireless bureaucrats and civil servants that ensure close to 600 million were able to cast their vote. We talk so much about the corruption in our government departments, but they don’t often get credit for managing the vast numbers they do , oftentimes with limited resources.
We’d be interested to see where both the Congress and AAP move from here. The AAP has the potential to create a truly centrist-left party with the common man’s concerns as the core of its strategy, to fill a very specific lacunae in the Indian political landscape. The question, as always, remains where they themselves want to go next. We wish them smart advisers, and hope all of that energy can get channeled into a cogent plan.
As for the Congress, it has spent so many years defining itself by the allure of one fading family, that it will take a great deal of soul searching to decide what they stand for, apart from the dynasty. We’d like it to succeed in this reinvention though, because the best part about the Indian democracy is the tug of war between so many pluralistic forces, and we can’t think of anything more unfortunate than just one dominant party for aeons to come.
At the end of the day, this election devolved to one about the personalities of the people on opposing ends. Not one of us can say how much of this is true and how much is an expensive media construct, but nearly all the voters exited the ring believing that Modi was a can-do “benevolent” dictator with a checkered past, Rahul Gandhi a clueless shehzaada, and Kejriwal a vacillating do-gooder. Unfortunately, none of the three principles helped their cause by displaying any more nuance to their personalities. We’d like to believe that the Modi we will see in the next 5 years will be the one who told Arnab that to govern a country he will need everyone’s co-operation, and he will do whatever it takes to seek that co-operation. But we worry about his antecedents and the looming spectre of narrow patriarchal kind of nationalism.
As Hartosh Singh Bal said in a recent column
There is no shortage of cheerleaders for this verdict, but for democracy to function, the sceptics have to find their voice. We will all have to recognise that no mandate is a mandate to silence opposition. Neither is this mandate reason to silence oneself
Would it be too much to dream for an open inclusive society rather than the mythical Ram Rajya where Sitas of many colours burn in silence?
My Big Red Bag brings original content inspired by life’s joys and passions. Check out other articles from our Colours Issue, and stay tuned to our latest content by following us on Twitter and FB. See you on the other side!