Text and photographs: Prem Panicker
Idhar jashn ka mahaul chal rahi hai...
Around noon, it is already apparent that the Bahujan Samaj Party, making liars out of all exit polls, is poised to form the next government in Uttar Pradesh, on its own steam and without the need for alliances, horse-trading, support and all other tools of coalition-building.
Within the casually-guarded gate of the BSP party office on Mall Avenue, an earnest television anchor is proclaiming that there is a jashn ka mahaul (the mood is party-time) in the party office, that 100s of BSP volunteers are celebrating the stunning victory of their party.
Indeed they are. Oblivious of their leader's egalitarian posture, they are hailing Mayawati as Desh ki Rajkumari. And then there is a pause in the slogan-shouting, while the leader of the celebrants engages in an aside with the cameraman of another television channel.
At the leader's direction, the group moves to another corner of the courtyard fronting the BSP office. Another earnest young anchor takes the mike, and goes into his spiel: "You can see scenes of jubilation outside the BSP party office..."
On cue, the celebrations start up again, the slogans pour forth with fervour, a couple of the two-dozen odd party faithful providing the television anchors with 'colour' even break into a little dance; the tamasha lasts until the anchor is done spouting his spiel, and once the volunteers are done satisfying the needs of the half-dozen or so anchors all waiting patiently to do their 'piece to camera', they disperse.
Welcome, to the world of made-for-TV news.
It is not that there are no celebrations -- during the half hour or so that I spend wandering around in and around the BSP office, a few dozen more volunteers land up, some carrying fireworks; a couple of hired drummers are brought over in a cab, and "spontaneous" celebrations keep breaking out on demand.
...jashn ka mahaul chal rahi hai...
Image: Television reporters outside BSP chief Mayawati's home.
Also see: Mayawati: Dalit 'queen,' now Brahmin messiah