Anyone closely following the election campaigns of Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra cannot help but notice the powerful speakers playing ‘Kavali Jagan Ravali Jagan’ at YSRCP rallies, a thumping Telugu number composed by the Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) for the YSRCP. Minutes before Jagan climbs atop his campaign vehicle each time, the song is played, setting the tempo for his political address.
Political parties roping in well-known names to pen songs for poll campaigns isn’t a new phenomenon in Andhra politics. Setting the tune first was the Telugu Desam Party in the 90s when the then Chief Minister of AP NT Rama Rao had songs of devotional quality written for himself. NTR, who had a caravan driven by his son during election campaigns, rode into the hearts of people with ‘Chaitanya Ratham’, a song that was refurbished even in the recently released biopic of NTR- NTR Kathanayakudu and Mahanayakudu.
The campaign songs, beginning from the 90s, have followed a set template of projecting a mass image of the concerned politician. The songs are usually written from the viewpoint of an ardent worshipper of the political leader) who wishes the politician is elected and leads the state into prosperity.
‘Kavali Jagan Ravali Jagan’, which literally translates into ‘Andhra needs Jagan, wants Jagan’, is a sneak-peak into Jagan’s Padayatra where he covered around 3,648 km across different districts of Andhra in a year. The four-minute long video portrays a ‘leader of the people’ image of Jagan, where he is seen walking along with women and children, seeking blessings from the elderly, listening to farmers in rapt attention, closely resembling his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s padayatra in 2003 which rode the latter into power in the following elections.
Sung by popular singer Mano and penned by Suddala Ashok Teja, the song today on YouTube has over 9.9 million views.
While Jagan has upped the ante, carefully portraying a mass image of him across social media with peppy song numbers and extensive campaigning, AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is not one to be left behind. After popular songs like the ‘Kadalarindi Telugu Desa’ and ‘Taruludamu Randi Manam Janmabhoomiki’, his election rallies are now incomplete without ‘Nayakuda Nayakuda’, a song where Naidu is compared to lord Indra, the ruler of the world.
The song begins with the sun rising at Amaravathi, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, a wide shot that captures the progress at which work is pacing in the proposed capital city of Andhra. Effectively capturing the CM in every possible frame, the song is a supposed clarion call to the people of Andhra to witness the development in the state in the past 5 years and re-elect Naidu back into power.
Interestingly, all the campaign songs show the leader having an instant connect with the women and elderly in the villages, who bless and welcome the leader with open arms. Throughout the songs, children standing in hot sun wave party flags, faces painted in the colour of flags while the politician tries his hand at pottery, weaving, farming and everything else.
And it’s not just YSRCP and TDP who are taking the song route into the heart of voters, Jana Sena’s ‘Pada Pada’ is also a hit with 12 million hits on YouTube. The song is a montage of the sea of crowds swarming around Pawan Kalyan. The song is composed by famous music director SS Thaman and penned by Ramajogayya Sastry.
Analysing the trend, Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, a political analyst, says, “NTR had once famously said: ‘Cinema and art is like a friend. What parents aren’t capable of teaching an individual, cinema can effectively achieve’. And NTR as a politician had effectively used the trend to his advantage. Since YouTube has now achieved the last mile, political songs and videos have a deep influence on election choices of people. With mobile phones and other forms of portable devices becoming prominent, the target now is no longer the young population but the young and old alike.”