I attended the BJP-Shiv Sena election rally at Shivaji Park on Sunday evening. I was very curious to see how these events turn out. I had grown up nearby, so it was after about 35 years that I was going back to Shivaji Park.
The card said 6 pm. We were there at 6:15 pm, seated in the Special Invitees enclosure. Soon thereafter, the Shiv Sena and BJP songs started playing — and I have to admit they were quite catchy! The actual speeches started shortly after 7 pm. LK Advani and Uddhav Thackeray started their speeches after 8:30 pm, and the event ended with a Bal Thackeray video a little before 10 pm.
Most of the speeches were full of rabble-rousing bluster. It was all about hammering the Opposition — from the Congress and its leaders to the NCP and Sharad Pawar. Advani was the only person who spent some time focusing on a positive agenda of what the BJP government would do if it came to power.
Shivaji Park was full of people. There is a certain atmosphere seeing the crowds. But I left with the feeling that Indian politics needs a sea change if we are to mirror that change in Indian society. The politics of negativism needs to give way, as a friend put it, to the politics of aspiration. And I heard very little of that on Sunday night.