The place there’s a will, the politician will discover a approach. In Odisha, the place pandemic restrictions have grounded giant gatherings within the run-up to the elections to panchayat our bodies, candidates are taking advantage of intimate, door-to-door campaigns. To assist model recall, they’ve additionally been lugging round real-life variations of their ballot symbols. Which may not create a lot of a ripple if the candidate’s image is a lantern or a ebook, humdrum sufficient objects. However what if the Election Fee, in all its knowledge, has determined to establish you with an LED TV? For a candidate in Koraput’s zilla parishad elections, who has been making a spectacular entry into villages, gleaming flat-screen in tow, that is simply the sort of consideration she hoped for. In Nabarangpur district, Bhagavati Bhotra makes a distinct sort of splash — accompanying her on her marketing campaign path is a freshly-caught fish, expertly held within the criminal of her hand. That’s not as simple because it appears to be like. Ask Shashi Tharoor, whose composure was visibly ruffled when he was handed the massive catch of the day throughout a marketing campaign go to to a fish market in Thiruvananthapuram two years in the past. Makes an attempt to fish for sympathy on Twitter, when he described himself as a “squeamish vegetarian”, didn’t wash.
What would our elections be with out ballot symbols? Early on within the lifetime of a democracy that had gambled on giving the precise to vote to all, these minimalist ideograms grew to become a approach for a largely non-literate inhabitants to establish political candidates and events. For that motive, they’ve at all times been drawn from the unremarkable objects of peculiar life — from bicycles to brooms and vegetables and fruit.
Know-how has reworked, some would say distorted, the size and velocity at which events now take their message to the voter. The Odisha marketing campaign is, maybe, a reminder of old school politics as persuasion and legwork. And of the voter’s alternative — if she isn’t impressed with the candidate at her door, there are at all times loads of different fish within the sea.
This editorial first appeared within the print version on February 5, 2022 below the title ‘Vote for the fish’.