It is no secret that the BJP in Tamil Nadu has been the subject of multiple jokes following its unsuccessful run in the RK Nagar elections. DropTaxi, an inter-city taxi booking facilitator, decided to use the party's failure to poll more votes than NOTA as a concept for its satirical promotion campaign, and the BJP is seeing red. They have demanded that the ads be removed.
According to DropTaxi, BJP supporters have been calling the company's call centre, threatening to take them to court over the matter.
The advertisement appeared in Tamil magazine Tuglaq on Tuesday. It reads 'Tamarai pole...NOTAvai vida... Kuraivana..veliyur...taxi rate'. It roughly translates to: "Your fare for the trips out of town will be more like the Lotus and less than NOTA."
It clearly takes a dig at the BJP's performance while promoting the company's USP, which is to charge customers only for the one way trip as opposed to the double rate that taxis usually charge for trips outside the city.
With images of music composer Ilayaraja, singer SP Balasubramaniyam, actors Mohan and Revathi embossed on it, it clearly indicates that lines are meant to be a twist on the 'Mandram Vantha' song from the film 'Mouna Raagam'.
The company's managing director Srinivasan tells TNM that they have received multiple calls last week, complaining about the advertisement.
In one alleged recording from a caller to the taxi service, the BJP supporter can be heard telling the customer care executive, "You have hurt so many people for your publicity. Do you know what great efforts are being carried out to protect Hinduism? For business, you have insulted a party like this. This is a disgusting mindset. Even a sex worker won't do something so disgusting."
The caller further says, "Tell me what gave you the bravery to do this? You just thought nobody from BJP would attack you? If you are born to one father, will you do this with the DMK which lost its deposit? Are you scared they will hit you? We won't hit you."
An angry bhakth, calls up @droptaxi and seeks explanation for the advt in Tuqlaq. https://t.co/M75N3VJeLZ pic.twitter.com/FXAWyQChWrâ€” Savukku_Shankar (@savukku) January 7, 2018
When TNM contacted the state BJP unit over the issue, they distanced themselves from the caller. They, however, made it clear that they wants the ads to be removed.
"This is very irresponsible on the part of the company. Through these ads, they have not only insulted the BJP but they have also mocked the entire voting process and the concept of NOTA. They should remove the ad," says BJP leader Narayanan Tirupathi. "As far as the calls are concerned, the company could be doing it themselves in order to gain more publicity," he alleges.
The cab aggregator however, is unperturbed by these demands.
"We will not remove the ads because we have the freedom of expression. We are merely commenting on the political scenario and have released a series of ads mocking several other instances as well," says Srinivasan. "The Tamil Nadu BJP unit is being too sensitive and doesn't have a sense of humour," he adds.
The company has also commented on the 2G verdict, the alleged bribery of voters in RK Nagar and even Superstar Rajinikanth's political entry.
Speaking to TNM, Aditya CS, the proprietor of Sharpshooters and the brain behind the ad campaign says, "The BJP had nothing to say when our other ads released and no other party has reacted adversely. Our creatives are going to continue commenting on the political situation in Tamil Nadu. If they get offended, so be it."