Jingling Away To Glory

Dr. Moushumi Bhattacharjee:

With the BJP-led NDA riding a bigger ‘TsuNaMo’ to power in 2019 compared to 2014, the results thus vindicating the exit polls, it is time to look back at the general election this time which played out for 39 long days. Add to that the pre-election campaigning in February-March, and surely there was much that appealed to (or assailed) our eyes and ears. I begin with the amused surprise which gripped me when I saw my four-year-old identifying ‘NaMo’ on the telly screen and singing ‘Akou ebaar Modi sarkar’, so popularised by the frenetic dancing of Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma! Indeed, political jingles and slogans were a big hit this election. After all, political campaigns are not just battles of ideologies, they contain propaganda well designed in a structure of word play. Politicians vend themselves through various campaign tools like posters, slogans, jingles and the like. The jingles convey their election themes effectively with catchy tunes and lyrics, which are greeted by a flood of interesting comments and messages on social networking sites.

The Lok Sabha elections this time set a benchmark by being different in many ways. The two main parties — BJP and Congress — made use of radio as an effective medium to reach out to voters. The jingles were timed from 30 seconds to 3 minutes and played in every ad break, even cutting the time allotted for songs. According to TAM AdEx, a division of TAM Media Research, in March the BJP with 88 percent share topped radio’s political ad insertion list. The Congress replied with ‘Jan jan se naata hai, Sarkaar chalana aata hai (we have ties to every citizen, we know how to run a government)and ‘Aa rahi hai Congress, parivartan maange Madhya Pradesh (the Congress is coming, Madhya Pradesh desires change)’,the two jingles trending on all FM channels. The themes covered in the Congress radio campaign included the ‘NYAY’minimum incomescheme, poverty, disappearing jobs, farmers’ distress, women’s reservation, ‘Gabbar Singh Tax(GST)’ and education — all designed to debunk the BJP’s governance claims. The main theme song of the Congress campaign ‘Main hi toh Hindustan hoon’was penned by eminent writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar, while another slogan ‘Ab hoga Nyay (now there will be justice) earned good traction.

After coining its key slogan ‘Phir ek baar Modi sarkar’, the ruling BJP directed its State units to push the slogan in innovative ways. The Assamese version became wildly popular with its use by State Finance Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, one of the party’s star campaigners, so much so that it almost became synonymous with the party logo. ‘Akou ebaar Modi sarkar’was on the lips of kids to senior citizens, thanks mostly to Dr. Sarma showing off some serious dance moves to jive to the jingle at almost all the election rallies in Assam, giving much entertainment not just to party workers but assembled crowds too. Dr. Sarma further tweeted a video of himself grooving, jumping and lip-syncing to the jingle, which was endlessly shared and even parodied. The BJP also released ‘Main bhi chowkidar’and ‘Raftaar chahiye’songs on various platforms, while gaining significant electoral mileage with the slogan ‘Modi hain toh mumkin hain(when Modi is around, everything is possible)’ coined by lyricist Prasun Joshi. Then there was Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley getting into the groove by launching the BJP’s other campaign sub-themes — ‘Kaam karne waali sarkar(the government that works), ‘Imandar sarkar(the honest government)and ‘Bade faisle lene waali sarkar(the government that takes big decisions).

With the battle of the vote fought and the crown won, political parties will now settle down to the serious business of ruling or opposing while their leaders will doubtless keep hogging the headlines. Hopefully, their themes and agendas encapsulated in these jingles and slogans will not be forgotten. As for kids who don’t get to vote, lisping these jingles and jiving to their beat is the only way for them to get the flavour of the big, fat Indian election!


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