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How well do people know our political leaders?

October 07, 2013 08:22 IST

How well do people know our political leaders?

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With photographs of some of India's top political leaders, Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar travelled to the interiors of Tamil Nadu to see if the common man could identify their netas. Continuing our series.

Read Part I here 

Political parties have begun to gear up for the 2014 elections, but first they have to face the electorate in five states in the assembly elections due later this year.  

The national leaders are busy addressing massive rallies, flying around in helicopters, even while being fiercely guarded by their security cordon.   

They may be sold on their own visibility and recognisability and appeal among the voters, but how well-known are they really in India’s small towns and villages?

A Ganesh Nadar travelled to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu which is the southern-most district in mainland India.

We showed some voters here pictures of Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, L K Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and for some entertainment Amitabh Bachchan.

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J Jyoti is a 33-year-old from Simon Colony in Colachal. She has done her SSC. “This is Sonia Gandhi, she is a Congress leader. This is her son Rahul and daughter I don’t know her name.”

She called Sushma Swaraj some opposition leader whose name she did not know. She could not identify the President. She knew Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She called L K Advani, the leader of the opposition and Narendra Modi a Hindu leader.

She failed to recognise Arun Jaitley and even Amitabh Bachchan.

She has no idea about any of the schemes that Manmohan Singh had announced -- food security or otherwise.

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Image: J Jyoti
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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E Jesurani is a 28-year-old from Manakudi village, she has passed her SSC and has also done a course in desk-top publishing.

She pointed out Sonia Gandhi as the leader of the country. Priyanka she knew was Sonia’s daughter. Amitabh Bachchan was a great actor according to her.

She did not know the Congress prince nor the prime minister, President or any of the opposition leaders including the BJP’s prime minister hopeful.

She said she watched Tamil movies and songs on television, never the news. She did not bother reading papers, “My husband is a fisherman, I have to cook and look after my two kids. How is the news or the leaders going to make any difference to my life?” she wanted to know.

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Image: E Jesurani
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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Absyn Benzer is a fisherman from Thuthoor. He is 44 years old. He has studied up to the class III.

He recognised Amitabh Bachchan immediately. After serious thought he pointed out all the Congress leaders.

He did not know the President. “I am at sea most of the time, and at home I rest. I don’t watch television or read the papers,” he said.

His children go to school and he says that they are more knowledgeable than him. “I know the sea that feeds me and my family, am not interested in anything else,” he concluded.

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Image: Absyn Benzer
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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C Murugan is 31-years-old. He has finished his SSC. He is a delivery boy.

He knew Sonia Gandhi as a Congress leader. “This is her daughter, I don’t know her name and she too is a leader, I don’t know her designation. This is Amitabh Bachchan and he is an actor”.

He did not know the others and said it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know them. “I work through out the day to make a living. I don’t have time for politics. I will vote depending on my mood that day,” he said.

Not a single person we met knew the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful. Half of them did not know the prime minister. No one knew the President.

As for the Opposition leaders, the lesser said the better. Hope they are luckier in the other corners of the country, though they will be very well known at the Centre.  


Image: C Murugan
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

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