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Does the aam Indian recognise his netas?

October 23, 2013 10:03 IST

Mukhtar Ahmad

With photographs of some of India's top politicians,'s Mukhtar Ahmad travelled across Srinagar to test if the common man knows his leaders. Here’s what he found out.

Continuing our series.

The media spotlight notwithstanding, shocking as it may sound most of country’s top politicians are unrecognisable -- at least to the aam aadmi.

Read Part I here

Read Part II here

Here’s the proof.’s Mukhtar Ahmad went around Srinagar carrying photographs of some of India’s best-known politicians along with that of the film stars. While the common man from Srinagar took no time in identifying the actors, many of them appeared confused when shown “never-seen-before” pictures of our netas.        

Most of them recognised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a handful Sonia Gandhi. The rest were all unfamiliar faces.

Narendra Modi was confused with Atal Bihari Vajpayee! So much for all that advertising and campaigning blitzkrieg. Sushma Swaraj, one thought was Mayawati, the other Mamata Banerjee.  

More shockers from Srinagar… 

Does the aam Indian recognise his netas?

Image: Abdul Aziz Kasba takes a look at the photographs of India's politicians
Photographs: Umar Ganie Mukhtar Ahmad

Abdul Aziz Kasba is a 50-year-old chestnut seller from the busy Residency Road in Srinagar.  

He had a good look at the photographs shown to him by this correspondent and was quick to recognise Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch L K Advani. He answered with a smile.

Kasba tried hard to recognise Dr Singh and Sonia. Staring at the photographs of the United Progressive Alliance duo he said, “I have seen both of them on the TV making speeches, but I don’t know their names.”

“Frankly speaking, I cannot recognise the others at all,” he said looking at the pictures of Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, sister Priyanka, President Pranab Mukherjee, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, among others. 

And he took barely a second to exclaim, “Amitabh Bachchan,” when shown a photograph of the Bollywood superstar.  

Does the aam Indian recognise his netas?

Image: Mohammad Abdul Salam from Srinagar's Chattabal locality
Photographs: Umar Ganie Mukhtar Ahmad

Mohammad Abdul Salam, 65, from downtown Chattabal locality answered promptly when show Dr Singh’s photograph. “He rules he country,” said Salam.

“And she lives in New Delhi,” he added on seeing Sonia Gandhi’s picture.

All he knew about Rahul was that “he is Sonia Gandhi’s son.” The 65-year-old was clueless when asked to name him.

Priyanka Gandhi, said Salam, is “Dr Farooq Abdullah’s daughter.” Even more shocking is this. Pointing to Modi’s photograph, he said, “That’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”   


Does the aam Indian recognise his netas?

Image: Abdul Rahman Wani takes a look at the pictures of politicians in Pahalgam
Photographs: Umar Ganie Mukhtar Ahmad

Abdul Rahman Wani, 57, from south Kashmir’s mountain resort of Pahalgam wasn’t as ignorant, if we may say. He correctly identified Dr Singh, Sonia and Modi.

He even identified Pranab Mukherjee as India’s President.

But when shown a photograph of Sushma Swaraj, he confidently said, “She is Mayawati; she’s a tough woman.”

Does the aam Indian recognise his netas?

Image: Auto driver Mushtaq Ahmad in Srinagar
Photographs: Umar Ganie Mukhtar Ahmad

Mushtaq Ahmad, 40, an auto driver in capital city identified all the leaders in no time expect Swaraj.

Pointing to the BJP leader, he asked, “Isn’t that Mamata Banerjee.”  


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