Akhilesh’s is bigger than Rahul’s. The nose that is!
There are moments when political events in the states portend larger trends in national polity. Akhilesh’s landslide victory in UP sent a clear signal that the remote control, which became a metaphor for governance at the center; of being powerful without being in power is defunct. ‘No, backseat driving please’ is what the voter seems to convey.
A hyperventilating media, on the eve of poll results repeatedly asked Akhilesh, ‘What have you got that Rahul hasn’t? ”
No, that’s not what Akhilesh said. Instead he tried to evade the question.
Apparently the voters were disenchanted with the politics of statues, widespread corruption, NRHM scam, caste politics and lack of any other credible state leader. However, most importantly, what Akhilesh had was the insider card, the easy camaraderie, earnest communication skills and the promise of power with accountability. And when a senior Congress leader announced that UP will be remote controlled, the janta rushed into the waiting arms of Akhilesh Yadav - the local boy who knew the state, its people and its aspirations.
Given the UPA’s penchant for detachment and backseat driving, the electorate reposed their faith in the engaging politics of Akhilesh Yadav. The Congress and its bosses on the other hand, repeatedly shunned communication, distancing the voter further by muzzling the social media and people’s movement against graft. They did nothing to soothe the frazzled nerves of the unconvinced voter. And when they did communicate, they did so under pressure; in typical Inspector Clouseau clumsiness. Clearly their heart was not in it. It appeared as if communicating with the aam janta on a regular basis gave them dreadful headaches. Once in five years was a pain enough. They announced populist measures on the eve of the polls and covertly continued to play the communal card.
Adding to the government’s headache was the small screen. The truth is that it is the middle classes which control the small screen in terms of viewership and opinion making. Any attempt at convincing an irate, intelligent middle class is tough. It is akin to casting Behenji as Chikni Chameli; but it has to be done. And convincingly at that! The UPA spokespersons, living under the shadow of their PM being remote controlled, failed to strike a chord with the people.
Communicating with the intelligentsia is like walking a tight rope. One stray comment can make the balancing act precarious with a large chunk of faith getting decimated. Even mighty Anna's image suffered a setback after one reckless comment,"Ek hi Maara'. Manish Tiwari lost face after his, "Anna is embroiled in corruption from head to toe." Rashid Alvi lost credibility after his "Foreign hand" comment. On the other hand the unassuming Akhilesh, before and after the elections, was a picture of humility and grace. Any trace of vendetta was missing.
Unlike Akhilesh, the comments from other fronts were pompous and reeked of arrogance. ‘Either we will have a majority or Presidents Rule.” Forget clarifications, Congress failed to reassure the people that Rahul wanted involvement and not remote control. Wary of power without responsibility, voters clamored for the accessible and available Akhilesh. In spite of the goonda image! Public memory is short, they say!
Finally, if the Congress wants its share of bouquets for 2014, their leader has to engage with the voter and drop the remote control. The problem with the remote control is that the buck never stops. And people want accountability. Didn’t Nitish tell us that?
Since most of the newly sworn ministers have criminal backgrounds, only time will tell whether Akhilesh’s nose will stop his political ambitions from nose diving! The buck will stop at his door step.