This piece was written as a retort to Sandipan Sharma’s “Dummies’ guide to the 3 types of people who attend Modi rallies” published on Firstpost on 19th Nov 2013
While the political commentators may have been churning out theories, racking their brains or clinking their glasses, depending upon which side they are on, the fact remains that in today’s world, collecting a crowd of 2000 to 4000 is not a joke. Especially in an environment where, to get even 100 twitter followers, one has to either turn to abusing the celebrities or post a series of some famous quotes without giving credit to who said it originally.
To properly assess the impact of such significant crowds can only be done by analysing the types of people who attend Rahul Gandhi’s rallies.
Broadly speaking Rahul Gandhi’s rallies have three categories of people: Lookers, Freeloaders & Waiters.
Before going to their definitions, one should know the one common feature among the three groups. They do not convert into votes!
Lookers are those who have come to the rally to see Rahul Gandhi or to be seen by him. This category can also be called “Amma Army”, is attracted to by the marital status of Rahul Gandhi & consists of mothers looking for a good, eligible, fair, dimpled, rich groom for their marriageable daughters. “Bas Ek Bar Rahul Se Iski Shaadi Ho Jaye, Raj Karegi Meri Beti.” This category can be recognized easily. Wide eyed, dressed in the finest, ogling at the dimples, dying for a touch of the prince, egging their daughters to look attractive & edible at the same time, they are first to arrive and last to leave. This category can be called the faithful.
Freeloaders are those who have been told by some Congress worker, “Our youth leader who introduced Right to Food thru a central scheme called Food Security Bill which entitles distribution of food grains to all eligible families at very cheap prices.” His mind registers only “distribution of food grains” and that ensures his attendance to the rally. He comes before rally begins and jostles for a place in the front row.
However, the problem rears its ugly head when he realizes that the cavalcade carrying Rahul Gandhi has disgorged only his speech writers, advisors, hangers on & security other than, off course, Rahul Gandhi. The speech also starts but the grains do not appear. He waits for some more time but non appearance of trucks carrying grain makes him feel cheated and the group starts leaving. He does not listen to pleadings and completely misses the irony when the requests are made “Bhookh hamein bhi lagi hai, 10 minute to baat sun kar jaiye (We are also hungry, please listen to him for ten minutes)”. This category is fickle & can be converted on D-day by the right brand and right denomination.
The third category, Waiters, has nothing to do with people who work at eateries or restaurants. This definition is more functional and simply means people who wait for the rally to end. This category consists of many kinds of people but the most prominent are Congress workers worried about Rahul Gandhi’s speeches “Yeh to kah kar chala jayega ki Dilli ko Bharat se azaadi chahiye, bhugtega kaun? (He will leave after saying Delhi wants freedom from India, who will pay for that?)” to the policemen who have been trained to keep their face expressions in control “Vardi mein hansna mana hai (Laughing not permitted when in uniform)” to the tentwallahs “Malik bolta hai, bhashan dus minute ka, program do ghante ka, to labour bhi aadhe din ki. (The owner says the speech will end in ten minutes, program in two hours, why do you want salary for full day?)” to the journos who don’t know why they are there “Speech wahi purani lelo, crowd ki recording dusri rally ki, bas ek shot stage ka lo aur chalo”.
In terms of possibilities of gaining support from the groups, the first one can be swayed if all the girls do not find suitable match till elections, second one can be bought but there is always a danger of voter being slimier than the politician and the third one, having suffered personal loss, cannot be swayed at any cost.