The Indian general elections are all but a year away as I write this, and though we will hate to come to terms with it, it is going to be a BJP vs all. The party that swept the 2014 polls and has done remarkably well except a few minor hiccups since then, will be looking to gain an absolute majority in the coming elections, paving the way for a second term for Mr Modi.
The previous elections saw the BJP exploit the weak Congress leadership and undertake a brilliant marketing campaign with Mr Modi at its helm. While the traditional ways of reaching out to the masses have always been rallies and roadshows, the 2014 elections saw an increased usage of media. Specifically, online media. Propaganda websites, Twitter bots, Facebook and WhatsApp groups became the favoured platforms for targeting an increasingly digital voter base.
The same flavour has continued all the way down to the 2019 elections. The political parties have concentrated a large number of their resources, both in terms of human and financial capital, to build up an online base and campaign. A video released by Dhruv Rathee wherein he exposed the BJP government’s IT cell leaves little to be discussed about their modus operandi and their dangers.
Furthermore, red signals have been raised following the recent Cobrapost expose wherein the creme de la creme of media houses openly agreed to run a Hindutva based propaganda, well against the ethics of journalism, for a fee that runs into crore of rupees. It’ll be safe to assume that these media houses will be showing nothing but biased news items, as well as conveniently hiding a few truths leading up to the elections, ensuring them fatter pockets.
This is in addition to the already biased media coverage of channels such as the Republic TV, which has openly established itself as a pro-BJP news outlet, often showcasing irrelevant content and repeated bashing of the opposition. It can be argued that the same was undertaken by the likes of NDTV for the pro-left government during the UPA tenure.
The educated urban crowd might often see behind the veil of this fabricated ‘reporting’ but the impact on rural crowds and their acceptance and belief in the news can yield alarming results. The need of the hour is an open platform for exchange of ideas, free from biases and away from the clutches of political parties. The same, however, is easier said than done. It makes it all the more imperative for people who have an unbiased opinion, thousands of them, to step out of silence, speak up, and speak against, based on what the situation demands.