So where is the damned wave?

If the mainstream media is to be believed, the nation is buoyantly swept up by the ‘Modi Wave’ that soaring hope and optimism they are allegedly pinning on Narendra Modi of Gujarat. But, the reality on the ground looks and feels decidedly drier. Amit Sengupta reports.

The current joke is that since the 56-inch chest-thumping messiah has already become the self-confessed, self-glorified, self-appointed PM since the last six months, and since much of the media has already declared him King, he is already facing an anti-incumbency wave. This is quite like what Arun Jaitley is facing in the holy city of the Golden Temple, like his party and the Akalis in whole of Punjab, where they might lose all the 10 seats, with AAP going strong in at least four Lok Sabha constituencies.

The other joke is that the 56-inch ‘chaati’ seemed to have rapidly shrunk to just about 140 to 180 seats, just like the hyperbolic ‘Modi Wave’ first became a whimper and then an inevitable damp squib. A rattled BJP and the Amit Shah-Modi combine, with all their friends, fence-sitters and foes inside the party and Sangh Parivar, seems to be turning their PM candidate into a shuttle cock up the pole, not knowing how and when to get down from the imagined wave which never existed. Now, even ‘he’ is asking for 300 seats. Pray, why 300, when a gigantic wave of such a magnitude should easily get him 400 plus? Indeed, for Herr Herr Modi, the artificially manufactured sweet symphony seems to have become sour and jarring. The chest-thumpers seem to be suddenly changing their mantra: From Har Har Modi, is it now becoming Haar Haar Modi?

Surely, not in the United States, and surely not even in the prolonged dictatorships of Africa, or earlier Latin America, have such an unprecedented manufactured consent been hatched with such brazen, shameless and cold-blooded efficiency and transparency. This relentless bombing of the media-corporate-PR-event management manufactured mythical ‘wave’, mostly live on TV and allegedly paid news, with apparently thousands of crores pumped in to build the muscle-flexing profile and the promised utopia of ‘acche din aane waale hain’, seems to have collapsed into bitter shreds in the interiors of the country, especially in the crucial Hindi heartland, where, to this day, caste is as resilient and thriving as ever.

Surely, it is unprecedented in media history, (including the embedded journalism of the George Bush era or the propaganda machine ofAdolf Hitler, which left millions ravaged, Guantanamo-bayed, gassed, tortured and eliminated); the way the Indian media has been so openly bought over by a pseudo, corporate-generated wave, becoming a fascist concentration camp of paid news, as transparent as a cold-blooded fake encounter. It’s so brazen that even a cub reporter can see it. We can all see it. Any way, most of these channels are partisan mouthpieces, spewing utter hysteric rubbish in the name of news and analysis of contemporary affairs. Honestly, between this anchor and that on Live Modi TV, and the likes of ‘Mr The Nation Does not Want to Know’, and others who carry the glorious infamy of the Radia tapes, and Ambani’s legacy of  Orwellian objectivity, etc., the line is as thin and blurred as Bush smoking all of us out.

Surely, and undoubtedly, there is widespread disgust against the Congress. They squandered their mandate, hit the poor very, very hard, celebrated a scam a day which kept them healthy, happy and gay, and pampered the corporates, often subsidising them with public money. This is also unprecedented in history that the corporates who were the products and beneficiaries of the neo-liberal policies and market fundamentalism of the current prime minister and his close aids, including the finance minister and Planning Commission chairman, actually ditched this government, betrayed it for all to see, and chose to cock a snook at it by openly backing, pampering and subsidising a fascist. Surely, if the PM is the most powerful man in the land, the moneybags and fat cats care two hoots.And yet, the ‘good days’ are refusing to arrive. The miracle seems to be vanishing with the rope trick. The magic realism of the bubble and the hyperbole has turned into bitter,dd bitter realism. Every racist, xenophobic, communal, violent attack coming from their side is a sign of desperation. Indeed, after the engineered communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, the killings, rapes and mass displacement, designed to polarise the society, and after the judicial ruling, they can’t even engineer a similar vicious trajectory. And every time someone remembers the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’, the Gujarat genocide and the fake encounters, the obsessive surveillance and tapping of phones of a woman by Amit Shah reporting to ‘Saheb’, the wife left to her fate by the RSS loyalist days after the marriage, and, of course, the multi-million doles to Adani and others, the ‘Gujarat model’ biography becomes as sinister as always.

If ground reports can be believed, and these are not based on fake opinion polls or fake exit polls camouflaged as opinion polls, match-fixed by you know which cash-rich machinery, then, indeed, there is no wave, not even as a figment of a megalomaniac imagination. If anything, it seems, the silent majority is consolidating and polarising and refusing to ride the mythical wave. If anything, there seems to be an anti-NaMo wave, disgusted and getting back at this relentless bombing of a feku Gujarat model, which is basically saying enough is enough, get lost. Besides, the rural landscape in the cow belt is refusing to change between the multiple layers of caste equations and caste dynamics, oppression and exploitation, hope and hopelessness. In the Ganga-Jamuni belt in eastern UP, clearly, the BJP might find itself sinking and drinking dirty waters. At other places in central UP, they might be staring at a quagmire. In Bihar, the Laloo wave is true and rising. So, from which morbid P.C. Sorcar magic trick can the numbers be conjured up for the desperately seeking demi-god?

In Tamil Nadu, they might win two or four seats with their alliance, and Jayalalitha might not get the clean sweep she was dreaming of a month ago. In Bengal, their vote percentage will rise but it will eat into Trinamool votes and help the Left, and yet, Mamata Bannerjee’s party will score big. Mayawati declared her candidates one year ago, and though the media refuses to report about her and her candidates, she is not losing the battle any which way, though the Samajwadi Party might be number one in UP. Indeed, Mulayam Singh Yadav, also contesting from Azamgarh, next to Varanasi, has marked a paradigm shift on the ground. Locals say, 20 km away from Varanasi, the Modi factor does not even exist.

In Kerala, the Left and Congress might share equal number of seats. In Karnataka, the Congress will consolidate and the BJP will taste measured success. In the north-east it is the Congress which will gain, apart from the two Lok Sabha seats that will go to the CPM in Tripura. In Himachal and Uttarkhand, too, the BJP and Congress are locked in a neck-to-neck fight. In Orissa, the BJP has surged, but it will not translate into seats.

So where is the damned ‘wave’?

Amit Sengupta started journalism when he was 19, even while he was working in the relief camps as a student of JNU after the State sponsored genocide of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Since then, he has been an independent president of the JNU Students' Union, writer, activist and editor, closely involved with multiple people's movements and conflict zones in contemporary India. He was Executive Editor, Hardnews magazine, South Asian partner of Le Monde Diplomatique, Paris. He has earlier worked as a senior editor and journalist with Tehelka, Outlook, The Hindustan Times, Asian Age, The Pioneer, The Economic Times and Financial Chronicle. Till recently he has been a professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

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