One of the many grand old men of India politics, LK Advani, has started blogging. In his first post, he says that his “young colleagues” have convinced him that “a political portal without a blog is like a letter without a signature.” He also tells us this wonderful story:
In the first general election, when as a 25-year-old political activist I campaigned in Rajasthan for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which had been founded in the previous year by Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, even printing a rudimentary handbill was a novelty. Let me recount an interesting incident here. My party had entrusted me with the responsibility of managing the campaign in Kotputli. After studying the problems of the region, I prepared some literature explaining how the Jana Sangh would try to solve these problems if the people elected our candidate. I had also brought copies of the party’s manifesto for Rajasthan.
I reached the constituency about a month before the polling and resolved to remain there until the elections were over. As I began unloading the poll literature that I had brought from Jaipur, I saw our candidate standing at a distance and watching me bemusedly. I was half his age at the time, but he addressed me very respectfully and said, “Advaniji, would you like me and my workers to distribute this literature in the constituency? But where is the need for it? This manifesto and these pamphlets are totally useless in our election strategy. We would have to spend a lot of time and energy in distributing them. If you insist, we will do it. But that will not fetch us even a single additional vote.”
He then added: “Let me tell you one thing, Advaniji. No one can defeat me in this election. This is a predominantly Gujar constituency. And I am the only Gujar in the contest.” His next statement opened my eyes even further regarding the reality of elections in India. “Firstly, every single Gujar who goes to the polling booth is going to vote for me simply because I am a Gujar. Secondly, a majority of non-Gujars will also cast their votes for me because they know that in this constituency I am the most likely winner. They would not like to waste their vote by giving it to a losing candidate!”
I’m no fan of Advani or the BJP, but I think it’s an excellent sign that he’s blogging—I hope his posts are honest, and true to himself, and not exercises in public relations. All blogs by public figures reveal a lot about them, sometimes even in what they choose not to write about, and I hope that some of our younger politicians get online as well.
That said, I really don’t want to see Narendra Modi’s Flickr account. Can you imagine that?