Seven signs you are trapped in a village election rally
Political rhetoric aside, one thing was for sure, this was not a city rally anymore. Here are seven signs:
This week the Aam Aadmi party and Yogendra Yadav headed to the village of Ghasera in Mewat, Haryana for a show of strength against Narendra Modi. Political rhetoric aside, one thing was for sure, this was not a city rally anymore. Here are seven signs:
The refreshments No soda stands or even bottled water here from the little pushcarts lining the rally. The sweet lime juice is being freshly pressed. There’s sugarcane. There's the Mewat Regal icecream which looks suspiciously like another well-known chain that's all over Delhi. And the piece de resistance is Dilkhusha kulfi, locally made and served up in old Slice and Limca bottles. Kurshid, the Dilkhusha seller, puffs on a beedi as he says he hopes to have a good day. It’s the first big rally in Ghasera this season. This also means at the end of the rally the litter is different. There’s far less plastic.
The tractor stand While Modi’s rally in Gurgaon was under a giant tent with big parking lots nearby, here cars trundle over rocky fields to find a shady spot under a tree. The tractor doubles as a bench as men, some in jeans, some wearing skull caps or turbans, perch on the tractor parked to the side along with curious children.
The entertainment The pre-rally entertainment is definitely different. Instead of just patriotic songs there’s nukkad street theater. Earnest stuff about bhrastachaar and balatkaar which the audience watches often expressionlessly. Neta karey enjoy Gandhi tere desh mein, Peeney ka paani nahin hain Gandhi tere desh mein, sing the young men and women in kurtas. Finally a little play about a man running from Collector sahib to chief minister to complain about a corrupt doctor elicits some knowing chuckles.
The stars The star draw here is radio TV kalakaar Feroz Khan. Khan says he has done jingles for some five candidates all of whom have won and some of whom he admits are bhrastacharis. So now he’s given up his jingle business. But when Arvind Kejriwal asked him for his help he could not refuse. So he sings and draws the first big applause from the crowd. After he finishes, the candidate is still not there. So a local poet is hauled up to stage to share some gushing Yogendra Yadav shairis.
The children All rallies draw hordes of kids excitedly chasing giveaways from sun visors to caps. But in Ghasera where not that much happens a rally is obviously a real highlight of the week. Gaggles of little children run around the tent hours before anything happens. They sit in the front as if waiting for the theatre to begin. They rush to examine everything being set up from the mics on stage to the television screens at the back. All of that watched stoically by old men with walking sticks. Of course, being the highlight of the week (perhaps month) has its downside. All the local speeches are longwinded as if the speakers know the limelight will shift away soon.
The jokes Humour is a tricky thing to work on any crowd. The crowd here is polite with the nukkad humour, heavily laced with political earnestness but it does not get them whooping. But then Feroz Khan tells a long joke that finally hits the mark. The short version is Narendra Modi goes to the barber for a beard trim and asks him who is the greatest leader and the barber says Arvind Kejriwal. Rahul Gandhi goes to the barber and asks the same and gets the same response. Both are angry and ask the barber why he chose Kejriwal. “It’s winter time,” the barber says. “Your beard is curling in. But when I say Kejriwal, it stands up and it’s east to trim.” The crowd roars Kejriwal zindabad.
The livestock Just outside the rally grounds, life goes on as usual. There’s cowdung drying on the walls. Two buffaloes survey the rally hungama with profound disinterest. This too shall pass.
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