Delhi Musings: Election fever in the national capital grips BJP and AAP

BJP is known to take municipal elections very seriously. Remember Hyderabad? Delhi is even more critical because they have been at the helm of Delhi’s multiple municipal corporations for ages

BJP campaign poster
BJP campaign poster
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Giraj Sharma

Dilliwallahs watched the election in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu with curiosity and interest never seen before. We the citizens of this great country, now stay deeply invested in each and every election. Blame it on satellite TV, on the internet or the sheer ambition of political parties – every election screams for our attention.

A part of the blame lies at the door of TV news channels and their screaming anchors. Some part of the blame also needs to be passed on to the ruling party which positions every election as an expression of faith of the electorate in its supreme leader till they face a reversal. Then the stature of the election is relegated to ‘just an insignificant local poll contested on local issues’.

With our man AK, having announced his interest in contesting in UP, Uttarakhand, Goa in addition to Punjab early next year – Dilliwallahs are drawn into the slugfest again. There are also elections due for the municipal corporations in our own backyard. The Aam Aadmi Party has announced its plan for a ‘massive campaign’ christened ‘MCD Badlaav’ as it believes it has a chance to oust BJP, which controls the municipal corporations in Delhi.

One wonders what this ‘massive’ campaign will be. As it is we have AK looking down at us from billboards, DTC bus stops, auto-rickshaws’ rear as well as from posters on Metro pillars and elsewhere. Wonder where they will find more space to speak directly with the electorate – back of DTC bus tickets? And please do not even start asking as to how and who will fund the massive campaign.

BJP is known to take municipal elections very seriously. Remember Hyderabad? Delhi is even more critical because they have been at the helm of Delhi’s multiple municipal corporations for ages.

It was therefore BJP which was off the block first with their ‘Jhuggi Samman Yatra’. Designed to reach out to the slum dweller in the city and to impress on them that their life became better due to the schemes of the central government while pre-empting what would be AAP’s claims.

The campaign that was to stay confined to the slums of Delhi, however, got the attention of the nation due to their poster. A photograph of the Tamil author and poet Perumal Murugan inadvertently featured in the posters. Murugan is shown among a group of people and is apparently meant to represent slum-dwellers. These posters were put up all across the city and, as is the norm these days, they also featured in the social media. Not just that, it is believed that one had Murugan peeping at you from a poster from the stage from which BJP President, JP Nadda, addressed a gathering.

Permul Murugan’s novels, short stories and poems have been widely acclaimed and translated all over. What makes this episode hilarious is not just that Murugan’s image was used to represent a Delhi slum-dweller’s face but the fact that Murugan was threatened by protests from Hindutva activists against his Tamil novel ‘Madhorubagan’ (One Part Woman). This compelled him to go into a self-imposed literary exile in 2014 after announcing that the writer in him was dead.


The poster goof up was far too tempting for Murugan to give it a miss. He put up a post on Facebook with the poster attached and a cryptic “I belong to the slums. Delighted!”

Though he had come out of his literary exile in 2016 with a collection of poems interestingly titled A Coward’s Song– he seems to have been resurrected--ironically by the same people who pushed him into his exile.

One can only guess what the next post from AAP is going to be – Coward’s Poster. But then it may just come back to bite our man AK too!

(The writer blogs at stateofdelhi.in)

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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