PR Ergo Sum
The LDF government in Kerala under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has completed their first year in office and predictably (for those of us who have followed Pinarayi Vijayan’s political career, especially his three terms as his party’s state supremo) the government has gone to town with a media splash, with newspaper ads such as these, in even far-away editions.
There are predictable responses too.
Along expected lines, the #ChanakaSanghis in Kerala and their North Indian chaddi brethren who cannot find Kerala on a map, or in some extreme cases, cannot even make out the difference between a state in India and a fucking atrocious vegetable that ought to be banned (see below) have started their faux-outrage over “wasting tax-payers’ money”. As if all those full-page Modi ads and the on going #ModiFest events are paid for from the family wealth of the horny old farts in Nagpur.
As they say, debating with chaddis is like wrestling with pigs — you end up washing the muck off your own back all day. So, I leave them to their machinations, their cows and the things they fantasise doing with their cows.
Then there are these responses, from a couple of usual suspects (disclosure: both of them are people I consider friends, at least in the bizarre world of Indian Twitter):
Both @AnandKochukudy and Weed know very well what they are doing, because they are not ignorant chaddis, on the contrary, they are intelligent and smooth operators. I acknowledge and respect their reasons for sniping at Pinarayi Vijayan — Anand is a centrist who has no love lost for either the Right or the Left and Weed is a committed Congressi and that too a true blue Thrissur gedi, not your regular “OMG RaGa’s beard! Soniaji’s saree!” type marshmallow. (PS: I am told he was the lone KSU bloke in an SFI-stronghold college — that usually requires lunacy or brass gonads or both.)
While fully respecting their rights to snipe at the personification of their political opposition, here is why they need to wake up and smell the coffee.
Until a few years back, I too regularly sneered at Chief Ministers from far away states taking out celebratory ads in newspapers. What on earth would J Jayalalitha hope to gain by publishing an ad in Chandigarh? Or Mamata Banerjee in Trivandrum for that matter?
To see what has changed, just look around. In a media environment that makes you believe that it is Modi who is holding the Sun up and making the planets go in circles, it is more vital then ever to remind people:
That India is not Modi.
That there are states in India that are not BJP-ruled (a.k.a. Modi-ruled)
That there are actually states in India, contrary to what many nincompoops seem to believe.
Hidden in the potshot that Weed took, there is a valid point that is applicable for his own outfit. His reference to the immortal line from “Kaitheri Sahadevan”, the antagonist allegedly modelled after Pinarayi Vijayan, in the Malayalam movie “Left Right Left” couldn’t be more true, in the current scenario.
The media is neither independent nor altruistic. They are corporations with P&L targets, staffed by people with mortgages and bonus plans. It is facetious to assume anymore that, just because a government does a decent job, the media will give them the fair coverage they deserve. Ask Manmohan Singh if he regrets not cultivating influence in the media, the way Modi has successfully done now.
Media is a business. Governments and political parties need to gain influence with the media, in the only way that businesses understand: by buying their product, i.e. ad spaces. Comrade Vijayan, like his alleged on-screen counterpart Comrade Sahadevan, most probably wears as a badge of honour, the sly dig that Weed made:
“To defeat the bourgeoisie, one must go a step beyond the bourgeoisie”
It is because of the fact that the CPI(M) in Kerala is a soft-left social democrat style outfit (“bourgeoisie party” according to Weed), that the fucking sanghis have not been able to find meaningful political space in Kerala.
It is exactly because of the fact that the Left parties elsewhere in the country continue to embrace wet dreams of “revolution”, “anti colonialism”, kattan chaya, parippu vada and beedi, that they have become irrelevant and ceded their space to all sorts of right wing bigots.
Therein also lies another fact: BJP with a mere 1 seat in the Kerala assembly and just 15% vote-share, gets almost equal or more media space in Kerala than the INC, the actual opposition party in the state.
I say, time for Captain Amarinder Singh to take out some full page ads in Malayalam newspapers and buy some ad slots in Malayalam prime time TV.
Even the BJP’s party mouthpiece “Janmabhoomi” swallowed their sanghi pride in the face of the cheque written by Comrade Vijayan.
I rest my case.