The battle of status messages goes offline!

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 22, 2014 15:55 hrs

Political slogans and jingles were always part of India. There’s nothing new in that.

There was Lal Bahadur Shastri’s Jai Jawan Jai Kisan. There was Indira Gandhi’s Garibi Hatao.

Many catchphrases were also written around her: India is Indira. Indira is India. Jab tak sooraj chaand rahega, Indira tera naam rahaega. (Till the sun and moon exists, so will Indira’s name)

Then there were election jingles like “Na billi hai na parcha hai, bas ka hi charcha hai."

However for the first time in a general election in India, the sheer flood of slogans, catchphrases and smart quips is quite a refreshing change. Who said that social media is not influencing national politics? With so many memes, spoofs and status updates floating in cyberspace, politicians are scrambling to recreate the magic offline.

Leading the pack is clearly the BJP and its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“Pradhan Mantri kaisa ho, Narendra Modi jaisa ho” was extremely catchy but a tad long. They have clearly bettered that with “Abki baar Modi sarkaar.” Short and succinct.

Its success is clear in the way it has inspired umpteen memes and status messages. Memes of even Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mouthing the slogan have gone viral.

Modi’s speeches also have to a mandatory “status message” type of moment. You can see that the crowd waits for it and starts laughing and clapping the moment Modi begins. It’s the instant era. You have to pepper your speeches with Twitter’s “140 character” type statements from time to time.

So what does Modi do when he wants to target the entire living Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty in one stroke? He talks of an RSVP model that can convert Rs one lakh crore into Rs 300 crore in four years.

And what does RSVP stand for? Robert-Sonia-Vadra-Priyanka!

In just four letters, he has blasted the entire dynasty and its corruption.

Then when he talks of the Centre giving so many packages to garner votes, he thunders: Pack off the people who wants to give you packages.

For those complaining that he didn’t take on AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, he did that with his initials: AK. Calling the 3 AKs as virtual Pakistani commanders he elaborated what they were: AK-47s that were bleeding India, the highly inept Defence Minister AK Antony and Arvind Kejriwal.

Critics found that in bad taste, but it was a hit among potential BJP voters.

Poor Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has also been trying his best with limited success. While he has been stuck with the name Pappu in cyberspace, his camp did score a minor victory with the nickname of Feku for Modi.

Pappu also came up with Gujarat’s “toffee model”, which was short and sweet even though it was factually incorrect. However, he has had far fewer recalls than Modi. The only problem is that he is a YouTube delight with his crazy utterances giving him bad press.

Sample some: This morning I got up at night. Politics is in your shirt and pant. India is bigger than US and Europe put together. Escape velocity for Dalits. I’ve lost it. Ek main se do bacche. Rani ki Jhansi…

What will happen if Priyanka Vadra enters full-time politics? One popular Twitter handle has already started calling her Pappini and that seems like a false start for her!

In the battle of the status messages, Modi has emerged as the clear winner. It’s not as if the others haven’t tried, but they usually come up with something dumb like Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s Modi standing for “Man Of Damage to India”.

Someone also sarcastically said that: Modi is BJP. BJP is Modi. But even that goes in Modi’s favour, such is his current status.

After winning the online battle, Modi took the same strategy into the offline world and appears to be winning there too.

Cyberspace is also a curious domain. 140 characters have a greater recall and impact than 1400 word intellectual and in-depth articles. While the offline establishment leans Left, the online one leans Right.

While Sonia is the Queen of the Offline establishment, Modi is the King of the Online establishment. The UnReal Times and Faking News are also taken more seriously than the mainstream media here!

If Modi becomes Prime Minister on May 16, then things just promise to get more interesting!

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.