Since 2014, the coverage of elections in India has been reduced to a drill. It typically begins with media being fairly aware that BJP has a clear advantage, but unwilling to admit it. Then, “star” reporters are sent out on Twitter to claim that there is a last minute surge in favor of “secular” forces. Someone’s maid, cook or driver predicts a Rahul wave. The “experts” (in what?) then gather in studios for weeks explaining how the voters of this or that party are “silent voters” and so on.
Finally the result arrives. If BJP wins, which is what generally happens these days, the “experts” have a mental breakdown on live television. Grown adults close to sobbing like children. If the “secular” forces win, it’s unmistakable sign of the Modi wave *finally* ebbing, some three years after the same experts did not see it coming even in early May of 2014.
As such, I have compiled a helpful list of the most common media tropes that you should expect to see play out in the season of Gujarat elections. See how many you can spot as the coverage of the polls continues over the next month and half.
(1) The Patels are angry :
Dividing Hindus on caste lines is the mainstay of the “Idea of India” approach to electoral politics. So, every election, the media finds one Hindu caste that is supposed to be angry with Modi. In Uttar Pradesh, it was the Jats. Actually, if you remember the coverage from 2014, it was supposedly Brahmins who were angry with BJP for elevating Modi, who is from an OBC community.
So, for days, reporters from Lutyens Delhi hit the road (or at least they say so in their articles) going from tea shop to tea shop asking people their caste and invariably coming back with stories of “XYZ anger”. By now, the “kaun jaat ho” refrain of one NDTV anchor, who appears too fond of the monotone of his own voice, has become a social media punchline.
In Gujarat elections, the “Patel anger” is the flavor of the season. For one such article written in the classical format of reporting “XYZ caste anger”, see Shivam Vij’s latest in Firspost. The Huffington Post Deputy Editor had once, in a strikingly candid article, attacked liberals for not doing enough to divide Hindus by caste. If there are any cub reporters here, go read Vij’s article and learn how to break the country.
(2) Modi is dividing the people by religion :
Sooner or later, the Prime Minister (or Amit Shah) will make a tough remark against opponents that will become the highlight of the election. In UP, it was the lines on “Shamshan-Kabristan” or sticking Cong-SP-BSP with the label of “Kasab“.
The liberals will begin crying foul over this. In the idea of India system, caste votebanks are considered the only “good votebanks” among Hindus. Anyone trying to consolidate Hindus as a whole or even to help Muslim women throw off the shackles of patriarchy, is crossing a red line.
(3) Modi is nervous and/or desperate :
Again, as is his wont, the Prime Minister will give the state elections everything he has. He will sweat it out aggressively, holding rally after rally, trying to convert every opportunity into a victory. In Varanasi, he wasn’t too shy to go on three roadshows on three consecutive days. This will lead to liberals invariably mocking the PM for being nervous/desperate.
There are two reasons for this. First, the average liberal is lazy and unfamiliar with the concept of fighting hard for success in life. Your typical liberal is used to having his food brought to his table by means of a patronage network. They don’t know what a hard fought win tastes like.
Secondly, you have to understand that the average liberal is actually much more in awe of Modi than the average “bhakt”. The liberals had been ensconced comfortably in power for like 6 decades, happily serving one generation after another of the Dynasty. Then, Modi comes and bludgeons his way to a brute majority in the Lok Sabha. He doesn’t stop there. He goes on a mission to wipe out their political power from every bit of the country.
So, the average liberal is absolutely terrified of Modi, looking for just about anything to conclude that the PM’s power is fading. Under these circumstances, even pigeon droppings on Modi’s car can be seen by liberals as a symptom of his approaching weakness.
(4) Rahul is becoming a youth icon along with other young leaders :
In Uttar Pradesh, it was Achche Ladke, the two godly young dynasts, as if descended from heaven to take the nation back to the good old times of things as they always were. Turns out that the youth isn’t exactly excited by this idea. Which is surprising for liberals, because for them the old India was always full of milk and honey. Did you hear that M K Venu (who now is with ‘The Wire’) collected 33 lakh of public money through his appearances on Rajya Sabha TV alone? Totally legal fortune made off the backs of the taxpayer. Which liberal would want to change a system that good?
In Gujarat, it is Rahul Gandhi flanked by the young “leaders” Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh who are drawing crowds, getting all the adulation and generally walking among rainbows and unicorns. Because which youth in India isn’t excited by the idea of caste politics? That liberals would choose all their “youth icons” from among the children of the old establishment or among those who claim to represent caste votebanks tells you everything you need to know about them.
(5) My Gujarati stockbroker says BJP will lose :
There is a time honored tradition among liberals, of calling elections based on predictions by their maids, cooks and drivers. In turn, these humble folk who actually have to work hard for a living, are savvy enough to tell their employers exactly what they want to hear.
However, thanks to decades of relentless entrepreneurship, Gujjus working as cooks and drivers for Delhi-NCR based liberals isn’t really a thing (what a surprise that Gujaratis would elect BJP for the longest time). So, I am guessing that this time liberals are going to have to turn to their Gujarati stockbrokers to predict doom for Modi in his home state.
(6) BJP must win ‘X’ number of seats for it to qualify as a ‘real’ victory :
This is my favorite one. Scared of losing, liberals in every election are looking for excuses even before the results come in. One of the ways to save face when defeat comes, is to claim that the BJP isn’t a “real” winner because it won less than ‘X’ number of seats. This number ‘X’ is generally set somewhere well above the range of 2/3rd to 3/4th majority, in the hope that BJP will fail to surpass it under any circumstances. Variants of this trope include demands that the BJP should exceed a certain vote share that is considered impossible to reach.
And when it happens once in a while, that the BJP beats even these ‘impossible’ standards, as in Uttar Pradesh, that’s when grown adults on live television have the kind of mental breakdown I mentioned above.
(7) Rahul is a winner for effort :
Participation prizes are the epitome of modern liberal thinking. Because you don’t have to work hard for them. And even if you do work hard, you don’t have to swallow the bitter pill of truth that says hard work does not always lead to success. In fact, success is such a precious commodity that only very few ever achieve it. As I mentioned before, liberals are not exactly familiar with this concept.
So, after every election, Rahul is simply a winner before it even starts. Then he is a winner for the Congress contesting the election, then a winner for tweeting or even clicking a selfie, then a winner for campaigning and then he is a winner even for losing.
(8) Bonus fact : EVMs are rigged, ‘First Past The Post’ is a bad system :
This generally comes after heavy defeats. Why didn’t they vote for the corrupt old system and the caste leaders that liberals tried to pass off as “youth icons”? The EVMs must be rigged, ofcourse. And hilariously, the ‘First Past the Post’ system must be a bad one. It’s almost like crybabies did not realize this while the same ‘First Past the Post’ system was giving them their favorite candy for nearly 6 decades.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.