India is going to face it’s ‘Seventeenth Parliamentary Elections’, in the recent year. On March 27, Election Commission (EC) released a show case notice to a member of BJP’s for sharing an Audio-visual advertisement titled, “Main Bhi Chowkidar Hoon” on social media stream, the member did not took from the ‘electoral direction’ of the poll body. In other words, The poll body remarked its Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) had issued a certificate dated “March 16” to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader “in respect of the said advertisement subject to the exclusion of the clips depicting Army personnel”.
In the last month, Election commission had directed all political parties to keep the countries defence personal out of the election campaining and also remarked that not to use their photographs in the same, but unforunately one of the BJP’s Jaipur MP named ‘Ram Charan Bohra’ used the same in his electoral banner. This comes after EC issued a directive to all political parties as mentioned in above statement.
Does Brahmins or upper Hindu caste can’t be ‘chowkidars?
While everybody is shouting “Main Bhi Chowkidar”, at the same time, one of the fire brand senior leader of India’s ruling party named, Subramanian Swamy did not follow the recent tagline ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’. He stated that, I’m a Brahmin (Upper hindu caste), I cannot be a ‘Chowkidar’. Brahmins can’t be ‘chowkidars’. It is a fact. Hence, I can’t take part in ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ (I too am watchman) campaign on Social media. “I will give orders that the ‘chowkidars’ have to execute”. That is what everyone expects from the appointed ‘chowkidars.’ So I cannot be one,” Targeting PM Narendra Modi, he remarked that he failed to understand why the Prime Minister stated that India was the fifth-largest economy in the world.
“As per scientifically acceptable procedures for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculations, the Indian economy is the third largest behind the United States (US) and China,”. Subramanian Swamy asserted the same.. May the above statement are Swamy’s personal. But the attempt has been seen as a “division of ideology” within party, to maintain it’s intellectual reputations followed by the several academia or political sphere at large. Notably, If Prime Minister can be a Chowkidar, why can’t Nations upper caste or Brahmins be the same in order to achieve or protect the national interest-security? Does it is a great work? Or its just a upgraded tagline from ‘selling pakodas’? We have to bacome a ‘Chowkidar’ with regard to Nation’s pride or family oriented needs but not for any person-parties vote bank tools.
‘Chaiwala’ to ‘Chowkidar’ gimmick
Following the couple of days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, On March 16, tweeted a fire brand social campaign series with the following hashtag ‘#MainBhiChowkidar’ (I am also a watchman) and changed his Twitter handle to “Chowkidar Narendra Modi”. The PM also called all those fighting corruption and social evils ‘watchmen’ and asked them to participate in the concerned campaign for a better India. Thus, such campaign was accompanied by almost all BJP leaders and major public supporters including “right wing intelligentsia” prefixing their Twitter or Facebook (Social Media Handle) names with the same titled, that is ‘Chowkidar.
As the social media campaign ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ gathered wind, many Opposition leaders including BJP’s senior leader stated against it.. Meanwhile, Targeting BJP’s “Main Bhi Chowkidar” campaign, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting his 2019 Parliamentary elections campaign to Chowkidar from Chaiwala, just two days after she accused PM Narendra Modi of changing his profile from ‘Chaiwala’ to ‘Chowkidar’ only to get votes in the LS polls.
The BSP chief claims that it was worrying that the union government was not allowing the release of data pertaining to poor employment, growing joblessness, increasing poverty, distress among farmers and labourers, just for the sake of losing votes and safeguarding their image. “Does the country need such a ‘chowkidaar’?” she asked. In a series of statement, the ‘BSP’ chief remarked that ever since the campaign was launched, people like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were in a fix on whether they should remain people’s representatives or become ‘chowkidars’.
At the same time, India’s Opposition party chief Rahul Gandhi, hit back with “Chowkidar Chor Hai” (the watchman is a thief) targeting Prime Minister over alleged irregularities in the Indo-French Rafale defence deal including many questions about Narendra Modi Government’s ability to generate employment.. Meanwhile, BJP ‘outdated’ MP and bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha, on March 21 described PM Narendra Modi’s ‘main bhi chowkidar’ campaign as ‘hollow rhetoric’ that lacked punch. He came out with a series of statements decrying the campaign that is meant to be a riposte to congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s ‘chowkidar hi chor hai” barb at Prime Minister Modi.
For more instense, Calling himself the nation’s Chowkidar, PM Narendra Modi in “Rudrapur” on March 28 used the same tagline ‘Chowkidar’ many times. The PM Modi at ‘Meerut’ on March 28, where he is campaigning for the Parliamentary Elections stated that, “Be it land or sky or space, the government of your ‘chowkidar’ has shown courage to conduct surgical strikes,”. Also, PM launched BJP’s poll campaign in the Northeastern states on March 30 and said, “What else is the reason for tea farmers to face problems for seven decades? They did not even get basic facilities. Only a chaiwaala or (tea seller) can understand the pain of chaiwallas,”, As Modi addressed rallies in Arunachal Pradesh’s Aalo and Moran in Dibrugarh district of Assam.
While addressing a public rally at Assam’s Dibrugarh on March 30 (Party chief Amit Shah’s Poll nomination from Gujrat’s Capital on the same day), The PM remarked, “They (Congress) hate ‘chowkidar’, they have problem with ‘chaiwallas’ too and urged his supporters to take the ‘main bhai chowkidar’ pledge, saying he is not alone. However, PM Modi is a professional political player in forcing opponents to commit mistakes and then heavily cashing on it. So the “Chowkidar Chor hai” campaign was dealt a sudden and powerful blow by this “Main Bhi Chowkidar” campaign.. While Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claims that the campaign has become a “people’s movement” as the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ hashtag has been tweeted 20 lakh times and had 1,680 crore impressions..
Thus, sure the memories of people will be fresh to understand the fact that how Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the “Chaiwala” comment of ‘Manishankar Aiyar’ to his advantage and romped home in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. In the 2017 Gujarat elections, the usage of word “Neech” by the same Mani Shankar Aiyar swung the battle decisively in favor of PM Narendra Modi as he used it to his advantage. Once again for 17th Parliamentary elections 2019, The PM changed it’s electoral tagline from ‘Chaiwala’ to ‘Chowkidar’. In this year, PM Modi, addressed over ’25 lakh chowkidars’ (security guards) on March 20, via audio conference. As PM connected with chowkidars from nearly 500 locations across the Nation who have joined his drive and are associated with the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign to boost the Parliamentary elections campaign, this year.
Consequently, May be through such campaign and major shifts, India’s ruling party (BJP) administration achieved a masterstroke. Earlier PM Modi encashed on the ‘Chaiwala gimmick’ and now since Congress party is calling him ‘Chowkidar Chor hai’, the PM has changed his tagline to Chowkidar.. Thus, The Chowkidar campaign with the combination of very-2 National security concerns (Surgical to balakot Air strikes in February by IAF), space technology such as ISRO, DRDO’s mission etc., ‘keywords-tags’ is the tagline of India’s ruling party ‘Branded Parliamentary campaign’ by many ways.
The Congress party accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of enabling the escape of fraudsters namely, Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi abroad. While the BJP replies that these crooks did nefarious things with impunity during Congress rule and are only now being acted against. Both Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi look like being extradited to India to face trial, and the BJP is boasting about this. With the special light of social media, “Facebook acts as a bigger influencer compared to Twitter, considering its greater usage by the urban middle class and lower middle class population. When we look at the lower middle class demographic in smaller cities, the male members work and females largely stay at home and are active users of WhatsApp and Facebook. That’s a huge participant base over the last five years and a fresh audience. They’re opinion makers now,”.
Bollywood-Actor-turned politicians entry
In the context of Bihar, The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on March 23 announced candidates for 39 of a total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar for the Parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will contest from Patna Sahib, the parliamentary constituency represented by Shatrughan Sinha (He dropped by NDA). Whereas on the other hand, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to contest ’19 seats’ and Congress to contest ‘9 seats’ in Bihar, as ‘Mahagathbandhan’ announced it’s Candidates for LS 2019 on March 29. Meanwhile, Loktantrik Janata Dal party chief Sharad Yadav to contest from Madhepura on RJD ticket, RJD’s Sarfraz Alam from Araria and Misa Bharti from Pataliputra etc. Patna Sahib seat yet to reserved for congress. (Shatrughan Sinha likely to contest from Patna Sahib, On congress ticket). While Actress Urmila Matondkar on March 27 joined Congress as it’s candidate for Mumbai North Constituency.
Moreover, Former Samajwadi Party MP and bollywood actor ‘Jaya Prada’ joined the BJP on March 26 and Lauding PM Modi, she described him as a “brave” leader in whose hands the country is “safe”. Importantly, Of all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, “Rampur” has the highest concentration of Muslims, and the PM has often banked on division of their votes and consolidation of Hindus in its favour to win what is seen as a difficult seat for the BJP. Following the same, you may find many bollywood ‘Actor-Actress turned’ politicians entry for LS polls by National party at large. The ‘choice’ for LS candidates said that actor-turned-politician Mr Shatrughan Sinha was dropped from the list as he has been critical of the political quarters top leadership on various occasions in the past.
Despite all of this, The Chowkidar campaign, spreads like a rocket with so many of the fire brand icons as well as social influencers rallying behind PM Modi and vowing to be Chowkidars. One of the several paths in which Social Media such as Twitter and other users extended their support to PM Modi was by attaching ‘Chowkidar’ before their display name. While People’s behaviour with such social campaign is not good at all, it may electoral propaganda driven.
This is all about how they create their vote bank. Instead, Senior political leaders including Prime Minister should focus on “real issues” for National Interest and well society oriented. Once the dust on 2019 Parliamentary elections is settled in May, the BJP’s tagline of “Main Bhi Chowkidar” would be a electoral textbook study on how to run a very-very successful or branded social media campaign to boost its vote bank. It’s unlikely though that Opposition party president Rahul Gandhi would drop his attempts to defame the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As people knows, Rahul Gandhi is all about anti-Modi and national issues are beyond his grasp. So yet the opposition lacks both a credible leader and sustained narrative that makes the opposition more than merely anti-Modi solidarity. It’s a real menace for opposition party to build as a ‘strong opposition’ to safeguard the Democracy. The 17th LS elections is going to start on April 11 and continue till May 19, this year. Requesting you to Go and Vote please.
Author: Trilok Singh (http://trilok.facebook.com), MA in Political Science, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. CEO at Youth Darpan Media, India’s Journal and the IASmind.