New Delhi, March 20: “Poori roti khayenge, 100 din kaam karenge, dawai lenge aur Congress ko jitayenge” (Will eat full meals, work for 100 days, receive free medicines and vote for Congress) is one of the new Congress slogans for the Lok Sabha elections, replacing the earlier “Aadhi roti khayenge Congress ko jitayenge (Will eat half a meal and vote for the Congress).
It highlights the passage of food and land security bills in parliament under the Congress-led government.
With elections to the 16th Lok Sabha set to take place in nine phases between April 7 and May 12, the slogan wars especially between the two giants – the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are hotting up.
The Congress’ slogans have traditionally promoted its achievements, especially schemes for the poor, and the 2004 tag line “Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath” (Congress’ hand is with the common man) was an example of that.
On the other hand, the BJP tends to exploit the popularity of its leaders once they have been announced as the party’s prime ministerial candidates.
And this time it’s Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the party’s contender for the top job.
Its slogan “Ab ki baar, Modi sarkar” (This time, it will be Modi’s government) is reminiscent of the party’s 1996 slogan “Bari bari sabki bari, abki bari Atal Bihari” which projected party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee as next prime minister.
As much as the slogans are used for promotion, they can also be a potent weapon to attack each other’s policies and leaders.
Desperate to counter Modi’s popularity, the Congress launched the “Main Nahi, Hum” (Not I, We) slogan targeting Modi, who has of late become the face of the BJP as well as its best bet to win the upcoming polls. The campaign is being promoted aggressively by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in TV, online and print advertisements.
However, the BJP has claimed that the phrase was first used by it in 2010 and accused the Congress of plagiarism.
Another slogan – “Kattar soch, nahi yuva josh” (Young enthusiasm, not fanatic ideologies) – attacks the BJP, and particularly Modi, for the 2002 Gujarat riots while portraying Rahul Gandhi as a young and passionate leader.
The “Kam bola, kaam bola” (We spoke less, our work spoke for itself) again ridiculed Modi as in his public rallies he often talks at length about the development work done in Gujarat under his rule.
Similarly, another Congress slogan “Na ghar ka na ghat ka, woh hain neta AAP ka” (The one who is of no use is an AAP leader) mocks the 49-day rule of the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.
The two-year-old AAP made a spectacular debut in Delhi by winning 28 of the 70 assembly seats and subsequently formed a minority government with the outside support of Congress.
The AAP’s latest slogan coined for the Lok Sabha polls is “Jhadu chalao, beiman bhagao” (Remove the corrupt with a broom). Broom is the party’s election symbol.
However, there are occasions when the slogans either fail to leave a mark or, worse, boomerang.
Like in 2004, the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP coined the “India Shining” slogan which touted the achievements of the country under the party’s rule. It however failed to strike a chord with the rural masses and the BJP lost.
Similarly, the Bahujan Samaj Party‘s slogan, “Chalega haathi udegi shool, na rahega haath, na phool (When the elephant will walk, it will defeat the hand and lotus)”, used in Delhi has failed to catapult the party into prominence.
The cycle is Samajwadi Party’s symbol, while the hand and lotus belong to the Congress and the BJP respectively.