BJP Plays its Card in Gujarat
BJP plays its card in Gujarat 'I'm Vikas, I'm Modi'
Article first published in @ABP News: (click here)
Even before Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s #Pidi euphoria died down, the BJP has unfurled its new audio-visual election ad campaign on TV and digital media. This would undoubtedly trigger spirited discussion over the next few days when the film will be discussed, dissected, praised and shred to pieces both for its content and intent.
A few quick observations, therefore, may be in order:
First of all, the ad’s message is undeniably in your face; unabashedly and unapologetically all about Prime Minister Narendra #Modi. Analysts have been saying the outcome of the #Gujarat Assembly election could well determine Modi’s fate in 2019. He seems to have heard and accepted the challenge , and is not shy of making it a battle between him and the rest.
While people can interpret this as a sign of nervousness, it is also a strong message of reassurance to the people who had chosen him for three consecutive terms as Chief Minister and then sent him to Delhi as Prime Minister on a mission. But, conversely, it is also a tacit recognition of having opponents worth counting and who cannot be wished away.
All good advertising has to have a strong and clear central message. Here, that is unmistakably ‘Brand Modi’. So, “Mai hoon Vikas” should actually be read as “Mai hoon Modi”. The brand is built around two clear values that are fused into one Unique Selling Proposition (USP):
- Strength of Character — Personal integrity, Courage, Boldness, Country before Self or Family;
- Vision for a #NewIndia — Clean, Free of Corruption (Swachh) and Development Oriented (Vikas);
Unless the unexpected happens, that is, the BJP has a major setback in Gujarat , it would be safe to assume that it would play all the major State elections running up to 2019 with the Modi card.
However, what is most interesting and remarkable about this campaign is that it takes all the common criticism against Modi head on, without mincing words or being defensive. In fact, it goes a step further to turn some of them into virtues , such as the point about “Modi is a dictator”.
- The script also cues in possible reasons for his ‘unpopularity’ — banishing nepotism, no foreign junkets and cocktails for the media; (There is also a nice dig about Modi lacking ‘family values’ for not taking any of his relatives abroad);
- Not to be missed are the light touches on his personal traits (early riser, long working hours, not taking holidays, spending Diwali at the border with jawans) ushering a new work culture in the Government;
- ‘Vanshvaad’ or dynasty culture is brought straight into play, without hedging, by mentioning Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sonia Gandhi by name; (Does this rule out any reconciliation with the Samajwadi Party in the foreseeable future? Only time can tell);
- Add to it the swipe at caste and vote bank politics, placing Modi above it all (Hardik Patel, please note);
- String of Modi achievements from Jan Dhan Yojana to LPG for BPL families is neatly woven into the story-line. While gas cylinders have been positioned as a ‘Robin Hood’ act of taking away subsidy from the rich and giving it to the poor, JDY is contrasted with Modi being more concerned about opening bank accounts for the financially deprived while other politicians are busy filling their own coffers.
The strongest cut, of course, comes with what Modi considers to be his boldest decisions — demonetisation, surgical strike, fight against corruption, which the narrator describes as “near suicidal”. Interestingly, there is no overt reference to GST.
Potentially, maximum debate will be generated around the climax, which says if Modi fails there will not be another PM in 100 years who will dare to take on corruption. That is an audacious claim to make. It may also sound like the final trump card.
While it will surely resonate with innate Gujarati pride, the question that will be asked is, did Modi really need to play the ‘ace' for what may at best be regarded as a semi-final match?