Many commentators have written off the Gujarat elections as “predictable”. Some say the municipal corporation polls in Delhi are offering much more bang for the buck. The Gujarat campaign has, at least, caught up with a global trend. The Cancel Culture.
A few days ago, the BJP media cell in the state decided to not send their panelists and spokespersons to TV discussions that also feature AAP.
It happened to us in Vadodara. A BJP guest backed out at the last minute. He never gave us any reason but informed his colleagues, who very casually mentioned this to us towards the end of our show.
“Samjha karo yaar. Order hai,” they said.
The BJP has decided that AAP should not even be acknowledged or legitimised as a player in the state. Most of the party’s messaging at the national level is to challenge AAP ahead of the Delhi civic polls.
In Gujarat, the party only acknowledges the Congress as an opponent.
From Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath, CR Patil, Bhupendra Patel, and Harsh Sanghvi, the message across the BJP is clear. Talk about your own work, talk about the Congress. Ignore AAP.
“They (AAP) are only creating a buzz on the media and confusing voters on the ground. We are Gujaratis. Time is precious. Why waste it fighting a non-entity? So, we are calling them out by not acknowledging them,” a BJP leader told me.
A senior BJP functionary even said, “AAP bought themselves legitimacy in Gujarat by pumping in ad money on channels.”
Not just BJP, now the Congress too is boycotting debates with AAP panelists.
“On local channels, we only debate with BJP candidates. AAP spokespersons come only with some political analyst type,” said a senior Congress spokesperson.
Not that AAP is taking this lying down. Arvind Kejriwal has started his own version of “cancellation”.
On Thursday, he released a video in which he used his rudimentary Gujarati to say: “Don’t waste your vote on Congress.”
In his mission to fight the BJP, the AAP chief is asking voters to ignore the Congress. Effectively, he has cancelled the Congress.
I find this funny. BJP cancels AAP. AAP cancels Congress. Congress cancels AAP. The cycle repeats in each of Gujarat’s 182 seats.
Who will be cancelled by the voters? We will know on December 8.
(Sanket Upadhyay is Consulting Editor, NDTV Group)
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.
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