If you are driving in Delhi, it is difficult to avoid the election campaigns on the radio. There are five chief voices being heard frequently now – Arvind Kejriwal, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and of course the incumbent Delhi CM Sheila Dixit.
The voice of Kejriwal seems to be the most refreshing one with the rare quality of a non-politician, the timbre notwithstanding. Where the content of Kejriwal’s speech is different is that he offers you the chance to make a difference by investing in change – by voting and urging others to exercise their democratic franchise, arguably the most powerful tool available to the common man, perhaps second only to popular protest. And the Aam Admi Party, of which Kejriwal is undoubtedly the supremo, has been using the second tool with great gusto till now.
“Every relative and neighbor of every youth who was beaten up during protests will click on the broom symbol. That sympathy for ground movement moves India and, luckily or coincidentally, it was well timed,” says a political observer-cum-journalist.
Modi’s voice makes broad and esoteric promises of urban development. The BJP claims greater achievements in infrastructure development citing former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Golden Quadrilateral and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The first is a system of seamless road networks that cuts down on transport of goods through the country. The second is a beautiful dream, which is poorly monitored and executed, and the funds are inadequate given the scope of work. Roads, especially in the interior areas, were not repaired despite the five-year maintenance guarantee.
Despite his popularity in the media, particularly on social media websites, Modi’s speeches have the drone of most other silver-tongued politicians and says nothing new or striking. Out of three rallies attended by this reporter, the one in Rewadi, Haryana (the first after his being nominated as the BJP’s PM candidate) was the only one where he made some cogent promises on policy formulation.
Sheila Dixit sounds like she’s making an effort to keep afloat a sinking ship. She usually speaks about the speed of development and the content is more defensive, which seems to be the general Congress strategy of fighting the upcoming Delhi state assembly elections.
The most impressive of the lot is Jaitley. In court, he is assertive and convincing. On air, he is just plain reassuring. He comes across as the veteran politician who enjoys content-driven oratorical advantage over several other politicians in the fray. Importantly, Jaitley speaks of a concrete plan which is likely to attract people who think about issues, instead of putting forward esoteric promises that are vague.
The radio gets around 12 lakh listeners and more daily, and there are around ten times the number of voters, about 1.2 crores. However, the number of voters has been disputed in a study by a Bangalore-based not-for-profit organisation called Janagraha, which said that it should actually be 19 per cent (2.3 million) less.
Even though the major campaigns might seem to dominate the social media landscape, and even if Delhiites are far removed from the hotbed of election campaigning, these voices will still continue to boom from your radio.