In the IPL, you have a player bought by a franchise, then telling the press that he always wanted to play for that franchise. Until next year, when it’s dropped and picked up by another, and it’ll repeat the exact same line for the next franchise. In reality shows, you have stars once and stars who wish to be stars battling it out in a semi-scripted scene, with tales of broken relationships and personal mistrust adding spice to the often synthetic conflicts. What ratings would it be to combine the two, and I’m sure every TV executive had that idea, and now it’s come to fruition, in the form of the elections in Bengal.
If space was the last frontier for Captain Kirk, Bengal is for the BJP. The elections will be held in eight phases, in the name of law and order, and the last thing I remember that happened in eight phases in Bengal was sit-down dinners during weddings. The stakes are high and so is the drama.
There’s the mega-actor, whose versatility in roles ranging from high art to underground is matched only by his allegiance to political parties, swinging from one political extreme to the other. There are angry workers, crying on TV, anguished at being denied a ticket, wondering what they did wrong, joining the other party within hours. There are family feuds straight from an episode of The Sopranos. The Bahubalis, who physically attacked each other a year ago, now share the same stage. Friends are enemies and enemies are friends. Former crusaders accused of corruption are now welcomed as crusaders, and former crusaders are branded as corrupt. Actors and cricketers suddenly discover their deep desire to serve the people, have a photo op where they hoist the party flag and immediately get rally tickets, while political operatives who for years have worked on pitch, hoisting black flags or getting hit by police truncheons find themselves in the position of senior engineers in the corporate world, individual contributors said they will never “manage.”
Plato’s critique of democracy was that if you let everyone vote, then those who will win are those who are only popular, leading to leaders who have neither the ability nor the desire to lead. As politics in Bengal becomes an extension of “influencer marketing”, with even the semblance of beliefs, politics and ideology being thrown to the winds, somewhere Plato must be smiling.
And watch carefully, while reaching “telebhaja”.
This article is meant to make you smile. Any connection to real life events and characters is coincidental.
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