Nobody could have put this better than Sadanand Dhume (Twitter: @dhume) while summarising the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The only reason Dhume says this and not any of our celebrated journalists and media tycoons and their lesser known minions is because Dhume is not a part of the Indian media that created a hero out of Arvind Kejriwal.
A short history is in order. The Aam Aadmi Party, born out of the India Against Corruption movement–and had a chance to rule Delhi, which it did and transformed Delhi in 49 days. And Arvind Kejriwal decided that the 49 day transformation was enough and further decided the transform the country without even governing Delhi! This, the AAP would do by contesting in some 200 odd seats (forget the numbers, they are not important). Why wait for the messy process of governing when the country can be transformed by simply campaigning?
Exit polls suggest that they would win 1% of vote nationally and in some pockets, may win about 3-5 seats. The polls suggest a complete loss in Delhi where the above mentioned transformation happened.
All along, the media–which Mr. Arvind Kejriwal routinely accuses of being ‘paid by Ambani or Modi or whoever catches his fancy depending on what they say about him and his minions in his party — has flashed pictures of him as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate. So, most intellectuals believed that Kejriwal was a potential Prime Ministerial candidate too – along with the dynastic incumbent, Rahul Gandhi and the only anointed Prime Minister candidate from any party – Narendra Modi.
Opeds upon opeds were written about how the AAP would win seats – and I remember one insane piece on the front page of a leading advertisement supplement with a newspaper about the AAP would sweep (pun intended) cities – about how Kejriwal would make a difference, even though his government did very little in Delhi in those 49 days – other than an interview and a dharna a day. But throughout this inane exercise, as Dhume says, the media continued to project Arvind Kejriwal as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate. And that is something – considering that the vote share of Kejriwal would fall in the league of Sikkim Democratic Front headed by Chamling. Chamling who? In which case, why not Arvind Kejriwal who?
Well, because Arvind Kejriwal was a media creation. A creation that ruled television sets. A creation that feasted on interviews. With each interview, the Kejriwal bubble grew and grew until Kejriwal himself and many of his followers believed it. Except the unwashed masses did not watch TV – they probably did not have electricity. Or did not buy newspaper, the dolts. Or perhaps, they did both and watched those interviews like one watches a Teleshopping ad – watch but dismiss it right at the outset.
And therefore, this question to Kejriwal. Who or what is paid media? The media which projected you as a Prime Minister – despite the party projected to win only 1% of the vote? That is not the tail wagging the dog, but the flea on the tail wagging the dog. Why did they do that? Oh and let’s also not forget the infamous “krantikari” moment that Arvind Kejriwal and Punya Prasun Bajpai shared on TV a few months ago.
While I am reasonably sure the media did not project Kejriwal as this anti-corruption messiah for monetary reasons, it did it most likely out of intellectual love, a love emanating from a visceral intent to deal a blow to Narendra Modi. And thus, here is a question worth asking: Why did the media project Arvind Kejriwal as a potential PM and not, say, Raj Thackeray or even Chamling?
Postscript: I am putting this piece where my mouth is. If exit polls are proved wrong and AAP wins a massive, landslide victory, I can be called a paid writer or even an Ambani agent.