Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind
– George Orwell
This quote is very appropriate when you talk about how Narendra Modi’s PR team works. The BJP’s party slogan in Maharashtra reads ‘Shivchhatrapadi ka ashirwad, chalo chale Modi ke saath (with the blessings of Chhatrapati Shivaji, let’s all support Modi.’ Shiv Sena is caught unawares in this PR deluge, as traditionally they are the ones who have invoked the Maratha warrior right from their inception, and their name is derived from the warrior king. Shiv Sena certainly must be missing Bal Thackeray!
BJP till date has never associated themselves with the Maratha warrior and neither have they celebrated Shiv Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the king. They have also usurped the all popular slogan ‘Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji’, which was used only by the Shiv Sainiks till date. This is how they have gone multiple steps ahead of their long-standing regional ally, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. If the poll surveys are to be believed, it looks like that BJP is winning Maharashtra hands-down.
Look at National Parties, apart from BJP, there are only two other parties – Congress and Communists. Communists aren’t a threat for anyone today in India and the Prime Minister has surprised Congress by making use of their stalwarts in his promotional strategies.
He invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s name to launch ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign and it was fine as the activity itself was very Gandhian in nature. Immediately, he made use of two congress icons Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to support the initiative. He has declared cleanliness week from the Birth anniversary of Nehru, November 14, to the Birth Anniversary of Indira, November 19, in schools and anganwadis across the country. This was a surprise and the surprise made it a master stroke. Congress makes use of these two names in every initiative that they do and of late have started using Rajiv Gandhi’s name as well. Maybe, Modi when he campaigns next in South India, will invoke Rajiv’s name as well.
Before the 2014 Parliament elections, BJP played up the debate of Vallabhai Patel Vs. Jawaharlal Nehru and Modi even spoke about it in a public meeting where he was sharing the dais with the former PM Manmohan Singh. He mentioned that things would have been different and much better for India, if Patel was made the Prime Minster instead of Nehru. With this debate, BJP owned Vallabhai Patel as theirs and took away part of the history from Congress.
His poaching of such personalities for gain has no parallels in Indian politics till date. Maybe, this is because of the need that BJP has, for BJP does not have worthy names who may have contributed to the freedom movement of India. Isn’t it time for Shiv Sena and Congress to wake up to this new reality of effective PR in politics?
To quote Seth Godin, ‘You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself’ and this includes history as well.