Punjabi antenna

Election politics 
reigned supreme
Randeep Wadehra 

Randeep WadehraLast fortnight, two mainstream news items overshadowed, albeit temporarily, such major regional events as the Punjab State Assembly Election scenario and the Viraasat-e-Khalsa complexís inauguration.

First was the assault on Sharad Pawar on November 24. Apart from the usual video clips, there were comments that were condemnatory of the incident. However, mercifully, news channels did not play up the incident unduly and give undue boost to a lunaticís quest for cheap, instant "fame" for which physical assaults on important people is now apparently becoming a preferred mode, remember Jarnail Singh?

As Jatinder Pannu pointed out in DDJís morning show Khaas Khabar Ek Nazar on November 25, "Let us not forget that we are a democracy and there are very effective, constitutional methods for registering our ire against governmentís policies and actions".

The second news item was about the impasse in Parliament ó something that has now become a regular feature of its functioning. Although both corruption and inflation are important issues, our opposition parties forget that legislation and governance cannot be ignored.

So many important bills on such important matters as land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation, judicial accountability; Lokpal, etc are still awaiting discussion and clearance.

Most channels gave a live telecast of the entire inaugural proceedings of Viraasat-e-Khalsa complex
Most channels gave a live telecast of the entire inaugural proceedings of Viraasat-e-Khalsa complex  Tribune photo: S. Chandan

However, the Khaas Khabar episode will remain etched on oneís mindscape for Pannuís comparison of the black money controversy with camelís lower lip. "As camelsí lips droop but never fall, so would the black money conundrum hang on the parliamentary horizon without ever precipitating`85it comes in handy for disrupting the parliamentís work."

However, coverage of regional events was not exactly blacked out. Zee Punjabi and PTC News telecast programmes on the Viraasat-e-Khalsa. The former concentrated on presenting an encapsulated history of Sikhs, especially the gurdwaras of historical importance, while the latter.

As is the practice with the SAD-organised events, telecast by PTC News, as much was said about the eventís actual significance as about the Ďgreatnessí of the Chief Minister of Punjab, who was presiding over the proceedings. Again, on November 29, it telecast the observation of Ghallughara Day under the SGPC/SAD aegis, wherein less was said of the dayís significance and more of Badalís achievements. Poll politics reigned supreme.

The approaching Punjab Assembly Elections have energised the political scenario. Apart from the usual mergers and break-ups of political factions and the aaya-ram-gaya-ram syndrome, the Dalit factor found resonance in some talk shows. Dalits form 27 per cent of Punjabís population. This translates into a formidable political factor in the highly stratified Punjabi polity. Khabarsaar took stock of the recent upsurge in the activities of the Ramdasia sect that can have long-term influence on the power equations in Punjab. Subsequently, on November 23, the same talk show discussed whether campaigns for the forthcoming elections should be issue-based or allegations-based.

As a panelist pointed out, there is not much to choose between the Congress and the SAD-BJP as far as their precepts and practices are concerned. Both the political rivals have substantial number of the corrupt and the criminal in their ranks.

Both try to obfuscate the real issues that affect the common Punjabi and try to rely on emotive issues to score brownie points with their respective vote banks. In fact, the Congress and Akali panelists did not desist from resorting to fiery rhetoric even during the debate.

However, both were quite dismissive about the Manpreet Badal factor although they seemed to acknowledge that the anti-corruption campaign by Anna Hazare has induced the common man to become more demanding vis-`E0-vis probity in politics. Nonetheless, each panelist asserted that his party was cleaner than of the otherís. How would this detergent-ad style debate affect the votersí choice? Let us wait and watch.