New Delhi: Last Sunday, just four days out from the first phase of elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, the BJP and the Congress released music videos as part of their campaigns.
While neither of the anthems will top the music charts, the Congress’ up-tempo call for justice and the BJP’s wistful evocation of ‘Mother India’ will set the tone for the sound and fury of the seven-phase political battle ahead.
The BJP’s performance in the last five years is up against the Congress’ promise of change and social accountability, and a lot like their manifestos, the two contrasting election anthems present a striking picture of the politics at play.
Smiles versus stares
The BJP’s 3-minute-24-second video opens with floating diyas and a night shot of the iconic Ganga riverfront in Varanasi, followed by a Rajasthani folk artist playing the traditional ravanahatha instrument. From thereon, it goes on to showcase the progress both rural and urban India have witnessed in the five years of the Narendra Modi government, reminding the viewer of the PM’s promise of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, epitomised by smiling faces everywhere.
The rest of the video is Modi and flags — both the party flag and the Tricolour — waving in the wind of sentimental nationalism.
Meanwhile, the Congress video, Ab Hoga Nyay, written by Javed Akhtar, raps its rebellion against what it sees as the false promises and missteps of the BJP government.
It is just one minute long, shot inside a studio, and shows individual voters staring into the camera — a young pony-tailed man with a guitar strapped to his back, a village woman with an empty water vessel, a young urban rock band, a farming family, a young professional et al — having apparently had enough of being taken for granted. They want NYAY — the Hindi word for justice and the party’s biggest promise, the minimum income guarantee scheme.
The Congress highlights the gaps in BJP’s major policy decisions — the arbitrary changing of city names, demonetisation and agrarian distress, and contrasts this with what the Congress will bring to the table — jobs and social justice. It forfeits the use of its ‘hand’ symbol completely, changing track from its 2014 election song Har haath shakti har haath tarakki.
“Tum jhooti chaalein chal ke, sheheron ke naam badal ke, noton ko kachra kar ke, aur har nirdhan ko chhal ke, kehte ho hum ko chun lo, ab tum bhi humaari sun lo, ab dhokha nahin khayenge, Congress sarkar layenge. (After making false moves, changing the names of cities, consigning currency notes to scrap, deceiving every poor person, you say ‘elect me’, but you must listen to us, we won’t be conned, we’ll bring in a Congress government),” Akhtar’s lyrics state.
The BJP song, Chalo phir ek baar Modi sarkar banate hain, is built around the catchphrase ‘Phir ek baar Modi sarkar’ — a reiteration of its ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkar’ campaign from 2014.
To the sentimental montage of India-scape, the BJP adds a hefty dose of national pride, a direct reference to the Balakot air strikes, a video of PM Modi washing the feet of sanitation workers, and the promise of a ‘New India’ filled with blooming lotus flowers.
“Yahi waqt tha jab humne suraj naya ugaya tha, desh ke kone-kone mein humne kamal khilaya tha, chalo ek bar phir hum Modi sarkar banate hai (This was the time when we made a new sun rise, grew lotuses in every corner of the country… Let’s make a Modi government again),” the lyrics ask the public.
Individual and the country
The Congress positions each individual voter as embodying the country — the farmer and unemployed youth are shown as the lyrics proclaim: “Main hi toh Hindustan hoon.”
For the BJP, however, the nation is bigger than the individual — “Chalo milkar saath desh ko badhate hain”, or together Indians can bring prosperity.
Secularism and security
The Congress video espouses communal harmony as a Hindu and Muslim child hug, evoking the Surf Excel advertisement from a month ago that sparked outrage and calls for boycott.
“Nyay mita de nafrat, nyay hi pyaar laye (justice removes hate, justice brings love),” the Congress says.
BJP steers clear of any religious imagery, choosing to address social inequality instead: “Oonch-neech chhooti peechhe, yeh Modi sarkar hai (inequality has been left behind, this is the Modi government).”
As expected, the BJP flexes it muscles on nationalism, dedicating approximately 30 seconds to national security, praising India’s jawans and extolling military retaliation against the enemy. Snapshots of newspaper headlines reporting the Balakot airstrikes are displayed on the screen, as two men lip-sync to: “Bhar le josh jawan mere, kar le laut viman tere,
maar gira ke dushman ko, jeet ke ghar aa sher mere. (My military personnel should fill themselves with fervour, the enemy’s planes will beat a retreat, strike down the enemy and come back home victorious, o lion)”.
In contrast, the Congress makes no mention of the armed forces at all.
The last image on the Congress video is a smiling boy, while the BJP ends with who else but Modi — the Prime Minister makes an appearance at least five times in the anthem.
This is an updated version of the report