general elections 2009…indian cricket league…and nandigram…


“don’t make a big deal out of it. we’ll see how delhi fares and then have this conversation.”

so that was what my friend had to say when i asked him about the voting turnout for general elections in bombay. in mumbai. maximum city.

for the first time in our history, the media had bitten the carrot and gone on an all-out election blitzkrieg – across tv channels, radio frequencies, magazines, newspapers and the internet – there was a national campaign asking citizens to exercise their right to vote. even community stations like radio jamia (90.4 delhi), with a combined following of maybe 17 listeners was playing voting PSAs…and yet, most states this year have polled a sad voting percentage.

 “we’re the most vibrant democracy in the world. not just the largest, but the most vibrant”  declared rajdeep sardesai, hopping around the screen with a couple of polling analysts, the night before the general elections were about to commence.

we love rubbing it in…this largest democracy in the world thing…it’s like chinese water torture – you keep hearing it again and again and again, till the point it numbs you…and yet it keeps hitting you, till the point it drives you insane. insanely angry anyways.

“we’ve always been the first among equals in this country – our industry is right up there, our cinema is amongst the best in the world, we produce the greatest cricketers in the world, we’re a melting pot of culture. and this time around, mumbai will lead the country by example…” cooed shahrukh khan to a news anchor when asked what he thought about the upcoming elections. i’m just wondering here – is he talking about maharashtra in general, or mumbai in specific? is maharashtra in mumbai or the other way around?

srk…maybe the kolkata knightriders deserve a little more of your attention…talking about the ipl, what’s with the ‘mumbai indians’…are you mumbaikars first and indians later? or indians first and then mumbaikars? or is the identity of the nation subservient to that of the city? or vice versa? or is it an identity crisis? or am i just rambling?

anyways, srk, some facts for you…

in the 2004 general elections, a healthy 54% of maharashtra put ink on finger.

this year, 45% marathis voted. 

the mumbaikar averaged 43%.

mumbai south recorded 43%…mumbai south had avaeraged 44% in 2004.

mumbai south was also the site where the collective fancy of the nation gathered in the wake of the terror attacks in november. it was where democracy rallied and the common man’s angst spewed forth in public protests and demonstrations. where the mumbaikars took to the streets in large numbers, in solidarity with the slain and spitting bile against politicizing the event. where the mumbaikar claimed that the city belonged to them and not a cap-totting neta. the tri-colour was unfurled. waved. slogans were shouted.

the media claimed that indians were excited. that mumbai would lead the way. in the elections.

i’ll be honest with you – we were excited to see such a mass outcry against the political class. to see that the power vested in the forces of democracy put on show. that the media would not let this die and kept revisiting the horror…to keep the anger from fuelling out…to make sure we didn’t forget…was heartening. 

(ofcourse, it’s a sad comment that the media chooses to skip stories about the other mumbai…or the other maharashtra…or the other india…which really gives a baboon’s bottom to what happened in mumbai, because daily survival is of far greater importance…where raped daughters and murdered fathers take precedence over stock market trends and bollywood fads…but that’s another story…) 

so back to bombay, where the ‘mumbaikars’ claimed they wouldn’t forget…rahul bose said that the campaign this year had been the best so far and that the terror attacks were in itself, ample reason to push the citizen to vote.

this year, 45% voted. the mumbaikar averaged 43%.

i called up my friend and asked him if he’d voted. he berated me, asking me why i’d ask him such an oviosuly silly question.

…we’ve always been the first among equals in this country – our industry is right up there, our cinema is amongst the best in the world, we produce the greatest cricketers in the world, we’re a melting pot of culture. and this time around, mumbai will lead the country by example…

hmmm…just as mumbai has led the way in industry and economic policy…by pushing farmers to suicide across vidharba…

just as mumbai has led the way in cinema…where the collective industry still can’t swallow the fact that slumdog millionaire was not an indian film, but a film about india…

just as mumbai has led the way in cricket…yes, tendulkar might be the greatest thing that has happened to the game…we’ve been hearing that since 1989…can we please move on?

just as mumbai has shown the way by being a melting pot of cultures…oooohhh…i see a few smirks there…yes, people who’re not ‘mumbaikars’ but have had the privilege of staying in the city would have a thing or two to say about this. it’s fashionable to wear a chequered cloth around your neck, but not cool to let muslims to let out a house to a muslim family in your appartments. it’s sort of colonial, you know, when indians and dogs wouldn’t be allowed into the white man’s property…oops, did i step on a toe there? 

mumbai south recorded 43%.

it’s interesting how, many people living mumbai are obsessed with this mumbai-delhi argument. the moment they’d hear i’m from delhi, a whole packet of arguments would be flung at me…our city is more cultured than delhi…our city is safer for women…our city has more theatres than delhi…our city has a better night-life…and i’ve always looked on with curiousity, and then argued for ‘my’ city…wondering…i’ve never really thought of these divides. neither have i asked my friends visiting from mumbai about the comparitive statistics of the number of terrorist hits our cities have respectively taken. maybe there are better things to talk about. when one defends delhi, one is charged with being too insecure…but i’m just wondering if it’s the ‘marathi manoos’ claiming that mumbai/ bombay doesn’t belong to the ‘imbecile northerner’ that’s really insecure here?

again, low voter turnouts are really a national shame. but then mumbai (NOT to be read maharashtra)…mumbai? 43%? really? bastion of culture? melting pot of india? city of proletariats? 43%?? we got higher marks than that in mensuration in middle school…43%?! 43%?!!!!!!

and then came the bollywood stars. the collective slogan was : we’re disappointed that our city hss registered such a low turnout. but we’ll now head to delhi to make sure that people out there come out in full force to vote…

little pointer – people who live in glass houses shouldn’t undress during the day. especially if they don’t have anything to pretty to show for…the media concluded that it was probably too hot to vote. hotter than churu in rajasthan? churu polled 61% in the 2004 elections. hotter than chengalpattu in tamil nadu? chengalpattu polled 65% in 2004. mumbai south polled 44% in 2004. some election analysts felt that the citizens of mumbai felt that their city was unsafe on voting day – the threat of terrorist attacks persisted. i wouldn’t want to take an election analyst’s word for it and paint the entire city in one colour…but even if i were to take these analyst’s words for it, then how would they explain nandigram? people had died in poll related violence…but till about 5pm on voting day, voter turnout was around 70%…and counting… 

and an interesting bit of trivia – 2 voters died of sunstroke in east midnapore district. they were queued up to vote.

 maximum city…

maximum apathy…

maximum excuses…

 “don’t make a big deal out of it. we’ll see how delhi fares and then have this conversation.”

delhi polled 47% in the 2004 general elections. 

delhi polled 54% in the 2009 general elections.  

my friend isn’t taking my calls. and has not yet replied to any of my messages. i wasn’t calling about the results or to make a comparitive study. it’s his birthday today. and if he’s reading this, it isn’t about delhi or mumbai…it’s not about which city is better or worse…i just wanted to wish you a great year ahead man!

but it’s heights of joyful coincidence that the ipl match in the evening today pits the delhi daredevils against mumbai indians!


~ by mentalsyrup on May 8, 2009.

6 Responses to “general elections 2009…indian cricket league…and nandigram…”

  1. so…u’ve managed to tick off this mumbaikar…firstly, i’m not gonna defend the voting turnout..coz it was disgraceful…BUT, delhi polled 50% which, although higher than the 2004 elections is still bad for the capital city!So don’t go comparing mumbai to delhi..both are shamefull!! And don’t go by wat the analysts wasn’t too hot to vote in was a really long weekend and a holiday seemed more inviting to most ppl…Also, nobody gives a hoot bout wat srk has to say..apparently he flew down to mumbai just to ‘vote’..well apparently he also had to perform at a wedding for a very wealthy businessman that same he can coo about mumbai..but i’m just gonna roll my eyes and like u said tell him to concentrate on his ipl team!
    But, when it comes to saying mumbai is a melting pot of cultures…well, yes it is!!…Mumbai IS vibrant..the night life IS better..the food IS better..and the people are friendlier!..and don’t you argue Mr. Ghosh..coz i remember many conversations where you agreed to this!Ha! ;P Then again, Delhi is by far more beautiful..its the green city..its got history..its got red fort..chandni chowk (thats all i know..still gotta explore *wink*) wat i’m trying to say is mumbai is mumbai and delhi is delhi…so stop comparing!!
    p.s. we mumbaikars aren’t anti-northerners…that’s just a fanatic political party who can rub their ‘marathi manoos’ ideologies in their own poop!

  2. i won’t compare cities here…but narrate an experience…yours truly was working one hot summer day in gk-m block market….a random byte grabbing exercise for an advertised spot on-air…i had to ask people to urge other people watching the channel to go out and vote…and exercise their right. in the span of one hour….no one…no one in that market…wanted to do that! hot chicks, fancy ladies in million dollar sunglasses looked at me like riff-raff….i only got one sweet old woman to talk to me. some women didnt even know what i was talking about! their look was dumbfounded…ElECTIONS? VOTE? WHO ME?! it’s pathetic, i felt pathetic….soo basically, ya… some people across cities just don’t care.

  3. a sponsored spot, i meant…

  4. jojo – angry angry ANGRY!! heeheee…had a feeling you’d be amongst the first ones to jump on this! i could refute all your arguments just as you could refute mine…this is just a point of view man…relax…i love the city (but have a different take on a lot of things!)

    harry – yup, this indifference seems to come with class privileges…we have a few friends who fall into the same political-dodo category…and anyways, as usual south delhi polled the least votes…we’re a bunch of jokers…i think if they came out with post election data, it’d be interesting to see if the tendency to vote is inversely related to your position in the standard of living pyramid…

  5. […] Sushmit, May be I could help you solve with whats with ‘MUMBAI […]

  6. Well Sushmit, good post but I had my prospective on it.


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