Millennium Post

Arraigned by the educated

The political development of the past few months have made it clear that thanks to the lure of the television, the coming polls would be ‘talked’ more in terms of the issues which are far removed from the grass root realities. I said, the polls would be ‘talked’ and not contested because how much ice would these issues manage to cut with the voters would be known only when the results are declared.

The shoot and scoot tactics of Rahul Gandhi, where he blames a system of which he has been a product and practitioner, only goes to explain that there isn’t much of a difference between the political stylistics which the Congress party wants to adopt and what the Aam Admi Party (AAP) of Arvind Kejriwal has been practising.

I have always held that ever since their eviction from power structure, following the social and political revolution brought by the introduction of the Mandal Commission report, the votaries of anti-Mandal have been working overtime to recapture power. This has to be seen in the context of the rise of two major and powerful vocations in the country in the past 20 years – the social sector services and the media.

The last two decades have been years of growth of Indian IT and other corporate majors, widening of the influence of social sector and increasing corporatisation of media. This was possible not merely because there were funds available for investment but the fact that there was human resource in plenty waiting to be absorbed in a decent job. Thus, getting a job with TCS and not SAIL became the aspiration of the young engineering graduates. Opening and working for an NGO came with certain amount of social respectability and acceptability.

Similarly in media houses too, several well-educated professionals, who would have otherwise ended becoming desk officers in Ministries or in similar jobs, came to wield the mike and push the pen. It’s not surprising that surveys repeatedly indicate lack of Dalit/OBC representation in the media houses.

However, this doesn’t have to be construed to be a case for quota in private sector or media. The educated among these socially repressed classes are getting accommodated in government jobs, there is not much motivation for them to join the media or for that matter any other job in private sector.

In such a scenario media and social sector have found themselves to be natural allies in taking on the legislature and the executive, which has increasingly come to be composed of the representatives from the Dalit and backward classes. Thanks to the job reservation, which Mandal Commission report introduced and political empowerment, which followed, the social sector groups and the media have found a common ‘class enemy’.

Ironically, while they attack the existing power structure on the one hand, on the other they never mind getting an assignment from it. These forces in the past 10 years of the UPA rule managed to become powerful part of governance in ‘advisory’ capacity as members of institutions like the National Advisory Committee.

It’s not just Congress president Sonia Gandhi who gets ‘advised’ by these elements but their influence is more prominent in the genre of politics which Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is practising.

Communication theorist Harold Lasswell had defined politics as, ‘who gets what, when and how.’ It was the rivalry and fight for the spoils between these forces that saw the rise of the movement for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The roots of the movement were traced to Arvind Kejriwal not getting suitably accommodated in such ‘advisory power structure.’ Another evidence of this trend was visible in a mediaperson like Yogendra Yadav getting accommodated on powerful bodies of the Human Resource Development Ministry masquerading as an academic.

While the Congress party to an extent has been able to manage a balance between the ‘advisors’ and ‘practitioners’ of politics, unfortunately the media has seldom looked for ‘real polity’ in its search for class enemy and their subsequent destruction. Thus the initial shoring up of Arvind Kejriwal by media as a perceptible agent of change and now the new found over-zealousness to demoralise and dehumanise him.

Similarly BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is currently surfing on the high tide of media popularity. Given his agenda of development, he is seen as another possible instrument to take on the class enemy. As long as Modi doesn’t get into the act of doing ‘real politics’, which he proposes to do closer to the 2014 polls, he would continue to get high media popularity ratings.
However, the real challenge for Modi would be to retain these popularity ratings as and when he promotes himself as a backward class leader. An appeal which Modi realises he will have to make to woo the numerically huge and politically powerful castes. Will that still make him the darling of a section of the media?

The biggest contradiction in Narendra Modi’s campaign today is that he riding high on endorsement of the educated classes whereas he can be propelled to power by the support of the backward classes. The art to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds is not easy to practise specially with a very aggressive media continuously looking for the class enemy.

Thus there is a certain need for Narendra Modi to have some politicians too work as his brand managers rather than leaving it completely to the ‘educated’ communication managers. His agenda for 2014 is certainly not to deconstruct the existing structure but be at the helm of it.

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post
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