A wave of waves

Poll pundits predicting poll prospects seem pretty sure there is no wave this time. How off the mark! If only these ‘experts’ were to see with their eyes instead of perceiving with their intellect, they will realise there are only waves all over the pollscape. And seeing is believing, mind you.

Of all the gesticulations that politicos direct at the crowds in public meetings, the wave of the hand(s) is the most ubiquitous and universally effective. Some like Seeman and Vaiko pump the air. There are those who flex their muscles. Kamal joins or holds his hands in various postures – some grotesque as in his movies. Many show the victory sign; or their party’s symbol if it can be displayed through some biological sign, as long as the said symbol is not a slipper, I must add.

There are innovations galore in greeting crowds via body language. But all campaigners end up waving eventually. The wave always sort of rides the wave as far as political gestures go. This is a national, nay global, affliction that touches its zenith in poll time when the right arm, particularly, is called upon to do its duty, through the day and all through the days till voting.

While the wave is a common denominator of all politicos, mannerisms vary. Modi, as a prelude, arches his back, spreads his shoulders and then bares his 56-inch chest that resides inside his latest designer kurta-jacket and then waves with nonchalant arrogance as if the throne is already and always his. Amit Shah’s wave starts at his wide guts and ends with a gusto almost matching Modi’s. When the Gujarathi duo share stage, their menacing machismo sends waves of shivers down the fragile democratic spines.

Sonia is now scarce but in her heydays she used to mimic Indira by holding her saree in place over her head with her left hand and waving with her right, right from the time she ascends to the podium till she disembarks. It was a class act. This poll, Priyanka has completely taken on the White Woman’s Burden in Raebareli. Her wave came a bit late, but with a striking resemblance to her grandma she is still making waves. Rahul, when filing his papers in Amethi, went in a cavalcade that included Priyanka, Robert Vadra and their two kids (Call them Baby Cong). The entire family was waving all the way. Vadra, however, looked sullen like a marooned sailor from a shipwreck, waving at everything that was floating before his eyes.

Initially, Rahul was a tentative waver – a reluctant politician wavering on whether to take the plunge or not. His wave used to be half-hearted as if he had sprained the shoulder. Today, having been pushed into the ring, he has become a master waver. He even waves with both his hands, sometimes precariously, as if he would lose balance and fall off stage.

Apart from the first two fronts, there is the third front with one too many fronts within it. The permutations and combinations are so fuzzy and mindboggling that there are too many cross-waves but all ending in a ripple. From Maya to Mamata, Mulayam and Akilesh, to Naidu to Rao, from Stalin in south to Omar up above and Naveen to HDK, everyone is waving at us (a wave of PM prospects?). Add to them the waves of the alliance partners of the two fronts and what we have is not just a wave of waves but a tsunami of waves. A three-front affront by political tidal waves on our pitiable peninsula.

Some wannabe celebrities are the new wave. After all, their sound waves fetch better TRP. That’s a tried and tested brainwave of political parties. Film stars-turned-politicos have always ridden the popular wave what with their charisma striking an instant chord with the star-struck populace. At the national level, the likes of Hema Malini, Jaya Prada, all receding waves, have given way to fresh ones like Urmila and some Bengali actresses, replete with wavy hair and savvy tongue, walking into the oncoming political waves with gay abandon.

The very presence of MGR brought in throngs by the waves and when he waved after flashing the victory-two leaves symbol, they went into raptures. J’s stylised wave, once again preceded by the victory symbol, elicited almost a similar response. Captain V’kanth, a prolific waver once, is unable to lift a finger now owing to illness, forcing him to duck the wave. His better half waves on his behalf – a proxy wave.

Scriptwriter K was not an avid waver, waiving the wave in favour of a wave of rhetoric. But his less endowed progeny have learnt to navigate the wave. It is a family wave, here too. The alliances in TN are clearly polarised. In the public meetings of NDA and UPA here, there are waves of leaders on stage that the crowds seem like drops in the ocean, and when all on stage, barring the security guards of national leaders, start waving at the crowds in frantic frenzy, one is scared (or wishes?) the stage would come down crashing.

Even a nonentity partner waves from the shadow of the big brothers; he is probably waving at some old acquaintance of his in the crowd. But really, more than the speeches of the national leaders, it is the translation that caused huge waves of laughter. T’balu, particularly, waved when Rahul waved – he was translating not just his words but also his wave. That is what you call being on the same wavelength. The self-important waves of EPS, OPS and local BJP leaders in such meetings requires you to insure your midriff against a ROFL wave attack.

The presumptuousness of the waving politicos is striking. What gumption they must have to believe that the paid crowds, roiling and roasting under relentless heat waves, are eagerly waiting and happy to see them wave. When the crowds wave back, they may be actually waving them away or, better still, waving them goodbye for good. But thick skinned politicos are oblivious to such waves of conscience.

Some vignettes and visuals generate a wave of poll time deja vu. Party flags and festoons waving high in the air; banners waving in the breeze; hopeless Independents waving at clueless street corner gatherings; party workers waving crisp currency under our nose on the sly; the EC waving the red flag. Indeed, the current election itself has come in waves of seven phases.

The last one resembles the Mexican Wave (look up the Lexicon for this wave) as the voting wave goes in a round. A real IPL this, Indian Poll League.

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Jawahar T R