Delhi seems oblivious of the fact that 4 states and 1 union territory are electing new governments.
What is it about Delhi that it is twice removed from the rest of the country? Is it a perception we have or is the apathy real? Delhi is multilayered; as the seat of the government there are numerous departments busy monitoring the rest of the country realtime. So it is not that they are unaware of what is happening. The Delhi that lives in its cities, however, is unaware and disinterested in what has been happening around the country. It neither has the time nor the inclination. But the third Delhi that matters most in this context is the so-called ‘national media’ that shapes and influences opinion and this is the Delhi that bothers us most. I have been part of this Delhi over a fairly long period of time and the view from inside is depressing; newsrooms across Delhi (and Mumbai as well given one of the loudest channels operate out of the commercial hub) have no awareness or interest about most parts of the country and the current polling exercise in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puduchery means little to the news junkies in the capital.
What perhaps interests many of them is whether the BJP would be able to win any of the states. They hear that Mr. Modi has a chance in Assam and therefore some crews have travelled there while others are planning a visit. But elections really for the media used to be a time to travel across the state, revisit the issues that need attention, review the promises made by the political leaders and bring to the readers and viewers a report card of the government in power. It is an irony that while the process of conducting elections have become better in terms of technology and transparency, the coverage of the same has deteriorated not only in quality of reportage but editorially as well. In fact there is hardly any reportage. Media has utterly failed to exploit improved technology; the world may have come closer but at the same time has moved farther. We know lesser about each other though we thrive in our virtual intimacy. For someone who has been covering Indian elections over two decades I sorely miss the thrill of reporting from the ground.
Kishalay Bhattacharjee is a senior journalist and author based in Delhi. His most recent book is Blood On My Hands: Confessions of Staged Encounters