Friday, May 12, 2006

VS enigma

Media's Own VS

The ways media work are enigmatic. Take for instance the case of a political leader like VS who was considered a not-very-powerful faction leader within CPM a few years back turning into a virtual icon in recent weeks. Obviously, in one way he personifies the yearning of the people at large for some sense of justice and ethics in politics, their desire for a no-nonsense voice (when is the last time we heard a political leader say publicly in such blunt terms, "lechers won't find place in our front"?) among their politicians, whose empty rhetoric they are fed up with. On the other, the kinds of issues VS has fought for (again with the help of media), even in the face of opposition from within his own party, like environmental issues, crisis in the agricultural front, gender justice, corruption, and mafia-controlled politics etc has struck a chord with the people. Added to this is his image and style of speech that is very obviously rustic and down to earth. An image of a rurality and rusticity that is immediately and easily associated with the nostalgia that is communism now – that glorious era of peasant uprisings and courageous leaders fighting their way forward bravely, with all those Vayalar & ONV songs in the background!

The most paradoxical thing is that even though the image of VS is closely bound with the pre-modern (and a dogmatist within the party, again a premodern affair within communist party politics), it is the new media and the youth that played a decisive role in making an idol out of him. During that tense week when his candidature was in doubt, the whole campaign for VS was fought in the arena of the new media – mobile phones, websites, television etc. Several websites and discussion forums were launched to vent public anger and discuss the "VS issue" which was accompanied by a flurry of SMS messages that made rounds seeking his candidature. People, especially the youth and women, suddenly found a martyr and a saviour in VS. And the polit bureau usually known for sticking adamantly to its "considered decisions", had to listen to the 'voice of the people', this time amplified by new media. Again, it was the 'new generation' PB members who turned the tide.

. Many political commentators said at that time that a monolith like CPM won't budge from its decision, for the party has seen such rebellion even before also by the likes of even greater stalwarts like M V Raghavan and Gouriamma. But they didn't realize that times have changed, or rather the media environment in which the malayalee lives has changed radically in the last few years. Eventually, they had to eat their words and found to their great astonishment the PB itself going back on its words! For, those ousted leaders, whatever may have been their stature and public support at the ground level, were fighting against their party during times when media was not as inflammable and impressionable as it is now.

So, the enigma of VS indeed belongs to the new media, a persona that also reflects the malayalee ambivalence between an idyllic notions about politics and power on the one and the fascination with new technologies on the other. An ambivalence that is also reflected in the duo of VS and Pinarayi also, two positions and world views that enchant and pull us at the same time but in different directions.


Blogger Anamika said...

The writer is associating VS with the enchanting & nostalgic past and Pinarayi with the new techonogies and modernisation ( or globalisation ?)

The former part of the observation is self explanatory and convincing with in the logic of the article . But the latter part sticks out like the end of a hidden tail ..

However hard one tries one can hardly find reason to see Pinarayi as representing 'the modern' , evidenced by any demonstrated thought or action .

However it is strikingly true that
there is this pull of two (or more)positions in different directions , the imbalance of which decides the direction of movement of the present Kerala society .

1:03 AM  

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