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Once again decoding anarchy

Once again decoding anarchy
Anarchy, if one refers to the Webster dictionary, means a state of statelessness, a situation where those who profess anarchy do not subscribe to any form of governance or rule of law.

When Mumbai burnt twice, first in December 1992 and then again in January 1993 killing more than 900 people and maiming thousands; when Gujarat burnt for a week killing 2,000 people after Godhra massacre; when Delhi burnt for 10 days killing more than 3,000 people in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s assassination; when Mumbai was held to ransom by planned hooliganism by several senas over the last 40 years; when scores of toll plazas were recently broken and the humble operators beaten up recently by one sena; and similar other situations: there is Anarchy, complete break-down of the rule of law, situation of statelessness.

However, either by design or by over-zealousness, a section of the media has been using ‘anarchy’ quite frequently in recent times referring to a sitting chief minister sitting on peaceful Gandhian dharna demanding police action in alleged cases of drugs-sex racket, a gang-rape and a bride burning case. Then, it was used when over-enthusiastic volunteers of the newest political party of India gathered in large numbers to welcome their national leader causing inconvenience to commuters and damaging two metal detectors at a Mumbai railway station.

Even the word, ‘rampage’, has been used in the second case, which dictionary-wise means a conscious attempt by a group of unruly people to go around and damaging public property and
people’s lives.

But in this case, it is the mob and volunteers swelling up in numbers and then a partial stampede happening and in the millee some damages, but no injury or death, have happened. It is unruly, undisciplined, unorganised or unplanned to an extent for sure. But not a rampage, indeed!
If this is the reality, why is such over-reaction by political parties opposed to this newest party and also by a large section of the media?

Primary reason of this to my understanding is that when you shake a well-entrenched system too much from the roots and catch up public imagination while doing so, the system is bound to over-react under panic. That is the reality of the moment.

There is another allegation that the newest party in the Indian polity does all of these as gimmicks to draw media attention. Such an allegation from the opposing parties is understandable. But the irony is that even a section of the media alleges the same. If so, then why play to their tune and make their gimmicks succeed to draw attention?

The number of scores of cameras, of still and moving visuals, every time the leader of the newest party coming out of an airport or taking a bus, train, auto-rickshaw and car, is perhaps not required or news-wise justified if gimmick is the avowed objective. More so, when the party is good in media management and gives enough of sound bytes and interviews etc.

This over zealousness of the media can then be justified by one or both of these two reasons. First, the party and the leader make good news-feed in spite of their alleged misdeeds and follies in the election season and ensure good copy and audience loyalty, which are both the currency and bane of media. Second, a large section of the media may have some vested interests, mandated by its promoters and funders, to ensure that the party constantly receives bad press till election and thereby a bad positioning in the political mind of the electorate. Either of the reasons is far short of ideals of journalism.

Now going beyond what parties and media say and do, does it make good sense for this party to be constant critical media gaze? Is it deliberate and does it do good to their political future?

Since the newest party emerged from the womb of an anti-corruption movement and with promises of transparent funding, accountable politics, going against all forms of dynastic, casteist, communal and parochial politics so far practiced in the country, it needs to keep the focus of the people firmly on to issues, than to people, processes and sound-bytes.

And, for this avowed over-arching objective, better discipline of volunteers, higher coordination within the leadership, focus on issues and not just populist methods, more erudite and sensitive responses even under pressures, and a complete commitment of politics within the people and not that of merely protests and media-visibility need to be high on its priorities.

Criticisms notwithstanding, the newest party is less than 20 months of age, has nothing to lose and everything to gain, surely shaken the roots of Indian politics, changing the rules of the game for parties and rules of people engagement, and is not averse to risk-taking.

While on one hand the party and its leader had thousands connecting to them in the commercial capital, on the other hand and on the same day the erstwhile estranged guru of theirs did not have a thousand people in the political capital come to listen to him in the changed situations of the day! A politically pregnant response of the people of Delhi indeed!
Ujjwal K Chowdhury

Ujjwal K Chowdhury

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