ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tea Party S(l)ips

In the run-up to the forthcoming general elections, the humble tea has become the quintessentially quotidian symbol of national political discourse.

When an ordinary drink like tea starts to figure prominently in national discourse, it’s not politics as usual. Indeed, nothing has been quite the usual poll staple in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. The conversations buzzing around us – weighing the pros and cons of three heavyweight political personalities (Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal) and the political parties they represent – have been more charged than political debates in recent memory. Indian politics is always full of surprises, whether we think of heated discussions on Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign origins”, the Aam Aadmi Party’s broom as an election symbol, or Azam Khan’s stolen buffaloes.

The most recent item of quotidian consumption that has entered the fray of political arguments is tea. Tea has become the focus of the electoral strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it prepares for the polls this summer. Consumed as fragrant leaves brewed in fancy pots, or pedestrian powder boiled in over-used, tacky saucepans at roadside stalls, this popular drink has been transformed into an idiom of political contention between the two main national parties – the Congress and the BJP.

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