The Congress and BJP have been going all out to ensure they win the war of hashtags and slogans ahead of the Gujarat elections. Here are their biggest hits and misses.
One of the biggest imprints of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was the rise of social media as an effective campaign tool, a must-have force multiplier as the victorious BJP so convincingly proved.
Now any election campaign strategy is incomplete without a social media plan. As the BJP and Congress prepare for next month’s #GujaratElections2017, ThePrint takes a quick look at the slogans dominating the campaign online:
BJP: I am vikas (development), I am Gujarat and #Gujarat4Vikas
The BJP’s political narrative remains pro-development, and is painted as the grassroots government that works closely with people from different demographics – women, farmers, labourers etc. The BJP is positioning itself in Gujarat as the humble, hardworking party as opposed to what it says is the ivory-tower legacy of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.
‘Vikasvad vs vansvad’ (development vs dynasty) has been a recurrent theme in the past few months.
BJP: #GujaratWithModi and #SoldChaiNotNation
The BJP has subverted the chaiwala meme used by the Congress to its full advantage, painting Modi as a victim of elitist discrimination who needs “his people” to stand with him. #GujaratWithModi is a clever strategy to invoke a sense of loyalty in Gujarat voters by reminding them of BJP’s legacy in the state, as well as simultaneously idolising the Prime Minister. The BJP’s twitter handle is flooded with pictures of Modi holding pro-development rallies in the Gujarat heartland, interacting with members of the community, visiting temples etc.
Know your government vs know your legacy
Both the BJP and Congress are working actively on social media to give the impression of greater accountability and more personal engagement. Twitter polls have become popular as a method to gauge audience interaction on social media, and interestingly, rather than countering the ‘vansvad’ (dynasty) label that BJP bracketed the Congress with, the latter has attempted to adopt and rework it to its advantage.
The Indian National Congress’s campaign is focused on rebirth and arrival, heralding Rahul Gandhi as the next face of prosperity, anti-corruption, equal development and inclusion. The re-branding of Rahul Gandhi as a modern, yet approachable leader, has defined the Congress’ campaign. The message is simple – The Congress is coming, to save you from the disappointments of the BJP government.
Congress: Exposing the Gujarat Model
While the Congress uses significantly fewer #tags than the BJP, the primary aim of its social media campaign has been to expose the falsity and failures of the ‘Gujarat model’ of development. The Congress aims to consolidate its vote bank in Gujarat by targeting communities it feels have been left out of the BJP’s prosperity narrative – OBC communities, unemployed youth, women, farmers etc.
The Congress’ anti-BJP campaigning took a negative turn when a meme making fun of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s background as a chaiwala (tea-seller) was posted on the official Twitter handle of the Youth Congress online magazine Yuva Desh. This came days after Rahul Gandhi asked the party to stop its ‘vikas gando thayo chhe’ (development has gone crazy) social media campaign, as it came across as disrespectful to the office of the PM. The Congress received a lot of flack for this meme, and unknowingly provided the BJP with ammunition to launch the new #GujaratWithModi campaign.