Saturday, March 14, 2009

INDIA SHINING, BHARAT BULAND: JAI HO?

During the last Lok Sabha elections, the cocky BJP thought it had a winner in its "India Shining" campaign. It worked like magic alright, but for its opponents. Walk into the hut of a poor man for whom 21st century is still a distant dream armed with an "India Shining" ad in hand and ask him whether his India is shining. Nothing more needs to be asked from or told to him. For him, the darkness has never left; the shine is a big lie. His vote is yours.

In the Gujarat elections in which Narendra Modi stunned everyone by storming back to power, 'Chak de Congress' was the slogan that the Congress thought would motivate voters just like the hockey players in the movie by that name had been. Unfortunately, the party forgot that in the electoral play ground, Shahrukh Khan was with the other team and that their own players were being picked and motivated by selectors and coaches located in Delhi. To make matters worse, they did not have even a team captain on the field in Gujarat! So, 'Chak De Congress' became 'Chak De BJP'!

Is there an imagination deficit in our political landscape? It is the Congress now that has all but copied the failed 'India Shining' campaign of the BJP. "Aam aadmi ke barhte kadam, har kadam pe Bharat buland" (the common man marches ahead, with every step India becomes stronger/rises). Effectively, "Bharat buland" is all but India Shining/Rising in Hindi. Now go to that same poor man in the same hut five years after he was informed that India was shining, with this slogan. This time the Congress is returning the favour to the BJP, it seems!

Not leaving anything to 'chance', the Congress has fallen back to Bollywood once again. What better than Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, the credit for the success of which has already been claimed by the Congress and to which Narendra Modi has already responded as should have been anticipated by the brains in the Grand Old Party chanting the 'youth mantra'. AR Rahman's song "Jai Ho" that got him one of his two Oscars, has been adopted by the party as its catchy slogan, in the hope that it will help it get the political Oscar, power, in the forthcoming elections.

Three one-minute spot films highlighting the advances made by the aam aadmi under the Congress tutelage have already been released. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, higher education, Chadrayaan, rural health, moblie connectivity, and the IT revolution have all been used to provide a snapshot of the recent achievements of the Congress.

Acutely aware perhaps that that there actually is not much to show in the last five years of its rule, the party is also harking back to its heritage since Independence. All its Prime Ministers except the one, Narasimha Rao, who ushered in the economic reforms that freed India from stagnation and spurred growth figure in this campaign. Obviously, the Congress think-tank believes that the aam aadmi will thank Nehru for introducing socialism and Indira Gandhi for nationalising banks and killing entrepreneurship. He will fondly remember the days when even the rich had to wait for 10 years to get a telephone or a scooter, thanks to them. The world was so much more equal then, he will tell himself, and only the Congress can ensure a more level playing field in the future too.

Will this campaign result in "Jai Ho" to the Congress? Or will the powerful combo of "Bharat buland" and "Jai Ho" prove to be just the tonic that the NDA and now even the Third Front were looking for to effortlessly show the reality mirror to the aam aadmi, just like it happened in 2004? I can already see jingles and even video clips on the internet and elsewhere highlighting the failures of the Congress since 1947 and ending with slogan "Just Go"!
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Readers may also read:
1. Political debate: the Slumdog effect
2. Elections 2009: Soangh Parivar of Cong Family?
3.Elections 2009: The day of the free-floater