The Aam Aadmi Party “has a Prashant Kishor in every second or third home,” AAP leader Bhagwant Mann had said during the Punjab assembly election campaign in 2017.
That same year, Arvind Kejriwal had said in an interview, “Prashant Kishor is young, dynamic and he should be projected as the face by Congress for Punjab. (Laughs.) Instead of Captain Amarinder, Congress should project him. And I won’t be surprised if Prashant Kishor replaces Rahul Gandhi after some time. (Smiles). Please print it.”
Soon after losing the election to Amarinder Singh, while still publicly blaming the defeat on manipulation of voting machines, Kejriwal invited Kishor to a meeting at his Delhi residence. Kejriwal wasn’t willing to take Kishor’s advice of resigning from the post of Delhi CM, which Kishor felt came in the way of his national positioning.
After two years of Kejriwal wooing Kishor, the AAP today launched its first Kishor-designed campaign – ‘Achhe Beete Paanch Saal, Lage Raho Kejriwal’. The campaign is characteristic of Prashant Kishor’s style.
Much to the surprise of Aam Aadmi Party’s members, the background colour of the campaign posters is black. So far, the AAP had used white. Kishor looked at the hoardings and posters across Delhi and felt there was too much visual noise, and the only colour that could cut the clutter was black.
Kishor takes colour psychology in election campaigning very seriously. In Bihar 2015 elections, he had used blood red, almost making the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad campaign look like a Left campaign. The idea was to use a strong basic colour that rural Bihar could relate to, and at the same time a colour that could compete with the BJP’s vibrant saffron. In Punjab 2017, Kishor used dark blue, the colour of the Sikh Jathedar’s pagdi, to dispel the idea that the Akali Dal had a monopoly over the religious Sikh.
Kishor, like the AAP, believes in face-driven campaigns. The message revolves around the messenger. Despite that, these new hoardings have reduced the size of Kejriwal’s face in proportion to the poster. Once again, this has a political objective. The idea is to counter Kejriwal’s narcissistic image.
Central to the poster is the message, “Achhe Beete Paanch Saal, Lage Raho Kejriwal.” The operative part are the last three words, which project a continuity of purpose. It gives the impression that people want Kejriwal to continue doing what he’s doing — in other words, both an endorsement of his performance and for the next election.
The present continuous tense of “Lage Raho Kejriwal” tries to rebut the anti-incumbency sentiment, asserting that the idea of Kejriwal as someone fighting the people’s battle isn’t over yet. The sense of reaffirmation it tries to induce doesn’t use the word Delhi. It is a conscious effort to raise his stature from that of the leader of a small region like Delhi, to the national one he had until he lost Punjab. Kejriwal will no doubt attempt a second innings in national politics should he win this election.
“Lage Raho Kejriwal” is written in turmeric yellow. The introduction of a warm colour is the beginning of an attempt to show that the AAP is part of the Hindu cultural milieu: pluralist without being anti-Hindu.
Inducing organic conversations
Usually, the Aam Aadmi Party bombards Delhi with its posters and hoardings. The radio ads play on an endless loop to the point of becoming irritating. But the Kishor-mentored Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) is putting up only 35 big hoardings of the campaign. Kishor wants the slogan to be more a topic of organic public discussion rather than a party message being drilled into people’s heads to the point of making them question it.
“Lage Raho Kejriwal” will be the AAP’s slogan for this election, to be held in February 2020. The first campaign launched under this banner was “AAP ki Report”. From now till 15 January, the party will reach out to people in Delhi’s localities by going door to door and telling them what the Kejriwal government did over the last five years.
After 15 January, the campaign will tell the people what it intends to do in the next five years.
Views are personal.