The battle for Bittora presents the 2009 general elections of India in a fictionalized form. You see the typical candidates who get tickets by the leading parties. Scions of political dynasties, ex-royals and rich & famous. You see the dirty side of Indian politics without feeling sick about it.
In the Battle for Bittora, two friends – a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl grow up together. One comes from a political family that entered politics through freedom fighter route and the other from an ex-royal family. They land up in a Lok Sabha contest as they are coming of age and realize how special they are to each other. The two parties they represent are a mock version of Indian National Congress that is called Pragati Party and IJP and take on BJP. They fight like politicians, they tell you inside games that politicians play but they give you hope that the new generation of politicians has India in their hearts.
Anuja takes you into the thick of Indian elections that too in the state where they are fought most viciously. She takes you through the tricks employed by the politicians. The way crack teams are organized and how local politicians remain at the mercy of big names even when they have dedicated their lives to politics. I quite enjoyed the game where no one trusts anyone and where it is always a matter of what story you play out for the public. Mudslinging that can go to any level with no respect for existing relationships. The inherent prejudices of communities play their role. The whole campaigning is designed for those who can not be trusted, those who can be trusted are kept aside. There is an insight into the kind of money is thrown at each election and how election commission is fooled.
The veneer of the story is a love story, but beneath it, you can see the reality of Indian politics and drama that plays out during every election. How the wave is created by both parties. How is the public fooled? And how do the loyalties shift? How the money changes hands? How are the funds arranged? And how are people controlled through their emotions? How are adverse situations converted into advantages and sympathy waves? You know it, but maybe not in such graphic details. However, it is told in a way that does not depress you. The veneer keeps giving you that regular dose of romantic scenes. The two protagonist with their youthful vigor, keep bringing some hope back into the story. The minor characters also play their role well.
I love Anuja Chauhan’s stories. I think with Battle for Bittora, I have read all her works. Her writing has loads of reality, humor, and romance. The segment she writes about can easily get her the tag of Karan Johar of contemporary Indian Literature. Her most comfortable zone is Lutyens Delhi. Of course, it has a lot to with a politician mother in law. What I like about her writing is her humor the most. She brings it through her language – which is a very localized version of English. She brings it through anecdotes that make you laugh. And she keeps the relationship between her protagonist casual and cheeky. She presents the real-life scenarios like a stand-up comedian.
Totally enjoyed reading the book.
Pick it up if you want some fun reading.
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