Artists canvas of tea seller vs dynasty prince

Written by Shombit Sengupta | Shombit Sengupta | Updated: Nov 24 2013, 09:28am hrs
The funfair in the run-up to the 2014 general elections has begun, although 80% voters dont understand what goes on inside New Delhis Parliament House. But they enjoy the whirlwind arrivals, departures, verbal electioneering wrestles, sometimes interspersed with splashes of black ink, and they vote. The new game now is railway station tea seller vs political dynasty prince.

Lets take an analogy of this choice before the voter. If equated to moving vehicles, it could be bullock cart vs Rolls-Royce; in food, its chana (lentils) vs caviar, in water, its the gushing street pipe, where somebodys stolen the tap vs Evian coming direct from the Alps. Being a creative person, allow me, my reader, to paint a 2014 election canvas without any bias between saffron versus tricolour. Their free-for-all includes words of legacy, authenticity, personal relations and quotations from history with right or wrong facts. The missing substance is who will do what for the electorates development.

Saffron: Suddenly, hand gestures are going up, reminiscent of how Barack Obama would breeze into American electioneering with both hands waving. Indians habitually use the right hand, culturally considering the left hand not auspicious. Whether or not theres regional nuance here, the saffron candidate has adeptly started the westernised left hand greeting cult. Why not After all, urban Indians are heavily inspired by jeans and Maggi noodles, so why push back remembering Indian traditions instead of adopting the globalising new Saffron may not get a western country visa, but huge western investment has entered Gujarat. FDIs are given every facility to flourish in business. Since Britain gifted us independence, this is the first time a state chief minister is canvassing so forcefully as his partys PM designate by showcasing his states achievements. Identifying with the common man, hes declared he sold tea to passengers at his home railway station, and then repartees on fellow politicians jibes for saying so.

Tricolour: Theres a huge treasure trove of nostalgia/memories here, great-great grandpa, great grandpa, grandma, father, mother as national leaders. Like the bubble gum effect, where you chew and mouth-mash, the real juice goes away, but the rubbery remnants can be stretched endlessly, or even blown up into airy balloons. The tricolour legacy can stretch way back to the pre-independence leader advocating satyagraha. When people not so conversant with history, that the tricolour dynasty shares the same surname as the Father of the Nation by sheer coincidence, see tricolour legacy posters with the charkha-spinning satyagrahi, it all seems happily legitimate and dynastic. So bearing this Gujarati surname, the tricolour can stomp into saffrons territory with the double protection of dynasty and coincidence of a distinguished surname.

At the same time, the tea seller saffron, being from Gujarat, can legitimately claim the desirable qualities of the satyagraha leaders origin as his connect to legacy, and so raise his brand authenticity. Saffron is invoking another Gujarati legacy. Hes planning to erect Sardars statue as the worlds tallest. The way McDonalds can win the taste buds of all Indians with a burger, can saffron nationalise Gujarati culture

Meanwhile, the tricolours advantage is like European luxury products Louis Vuitton and Hermes before whom no new commercial brand can ever compete. Thats because such renowned luxury brands take the reference of their long years, selling it as a marker of noble legacy to establish their connoisseur craftsmanship for high brand worth. Having history is the bonus that newcomers can never get. Of course, theres no connoisseur craftsmanship involved in this case. Rather, tricolours dynastic family breeding.

Did Bollywood follow the tricolour family legacy or was it the reverse Feudalism is officially eradicated, but culturally alive in Indian politics. Bollywood film stars dynastically promote their children, so does tricolour. The great legacy management benefit tricolour has is black-and-white documentary films, old newspapers, other archives. Tricolour mothers tough public job is to untangle feathers her sons emotional flying off the handle criticising government policies ruffled; simultaneously, she has to keep his political future intact. The sister is also available on demand. Tricolour politician has to only prove his dynastic thoroughbred political family. Tricolour party has several vintage politicians with solid political background and enormous pull in their constituencies. But they cant climb beyond a certain rung in the ladder. Their only choice is to nurture the dynasty scion who needs to grow and get appreciated.

Garland power: Do garlands reflect power In the old days, politicians would respectfully throw the garlands back to the public in mutual appreciation. Todays phenomenon is big, bigger, biggest garlands to flex and display political power. The masses are totally confused, are they politicians or prophets The crux of this election is for the tricolour to convince people that this sixth-generation (after great-great grandpa, great grandpa, grandma, father, mother) legacy is the best for India, while saffron has to convince everyone that the style of governing Gujarat is the best for India. One can give you the dynastic encyclopedia, while the other can offer a cup of tea even as the train is pulling out of the railway station. You, the voters, have the choice of learning our countrys political legacy or getting charged or recharged with cups of tea.

Anyway, dont look at who is good or bad. Abraham Lincoln had said, You have to decide whether you want to be right or you want to be a President. An unpainted canvas gives you the liberty of using whatever colours you want. The way great painters never bother about how others consider the painting, the saffron and tricolour canvas seem to have unlimited expression possibilities. The only difference is that these antics will impact a billion people, whereas a painters painting may be liked by only the person who buys it.

The crucial question is who will bring livelihood and dignity to 80% of our countrys people who probably dont understand this colourful saffron-vs-tricolour electoral canvas stretching like an endless bubblegum

Shombit Sengupta is an international consultant to top management on differentiating business strategy with execution excellence (