Whom should we credit such slogans to?

UDF that nurtures Kerala LDF that sets everything right
Voices Kerala Polls 2016 Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - 20:29

The UDF promises to continue with developmental activities if re-elected. Don’t bother asking whether development has even taken place or is this the kind of development that Kerala seeks. Questions have never had a place in stories.

The LDF promises to set everything right. Oh God, will LDF do so?...is a query which rattles even the most die-hard Left sympathizers.

Aren’t these mere slogans? Why are we even discussing them is a question which you may well pose. Even the masses don’t take these seriously. Whose slogan is better could well be a topic of discussion on Facebook or a village tea-stall.

Someone’s Facebook comment sided with the Leftist slogan, just because it came up for debate more often and thus garnered more popularity despite having an initial mocking tone. Apparently negative publicity is the real goods…as in, a ‘bad’ name is what gets you a good name these days. You get the drift!

Whom should we credit such slogans to? Vaikkom Vishwan for the LDF slogan and PP Thankachan for the UDF one? It’s just not possible that such a stupid question could possibly originate from someone’s brains.

This is not a political game, but a marketing arena. Such slogans need not have politics embedded within. Maybe just a wee bit, if mandatory. The same strategy resorted to by marketing agencies to sell a product applies here. It is the party or the candidate that needs to be sold in this case.

So whatever needs to be done gets done...that’s it. There are no Left-Right differences here.

Slogans that took the nation by storm

Till Indira Gandhi’s time, the Centre’s slogans were political slogans alright. Among these which were engineered without help from any advertising copywriters, ‘Gareebi hatao’ can easily be considered the best in this category. Whether it was implemented on ground is well…another matter.

This however did contribute -among other factors- to Indira Gandhi being victoriously elected in 1971. No hidden agendas hinted at -a straightforward promise.

Before that, analysts consider the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ that he raised at the time of the drought during 1965 Indo-Pak war as the most effective slogan heard at that time.

At the end of the Emergency in 1977, Jayprakash Narayanan too came up with a slogan on the lines of ‘Gareebi Hatao’…one which went ‘Indira hatao, Desh bachao’. Not surprisingly, it too met with success.

With the country set to face parliamentary elections in 1980 at a time when the ‘Janata’ rule at the Centre had gone all awry, Indira returned to power with the entire nation resonating to the slogan ‘Indira Bulao, Desh bachao’.

The takeover by companies

It was only after the Indira era came to an end and son Rajiv Gandhi arriving on the political scene, that political sloganeering became the domain of marketing companies. Members of Rajiv’s kitchen cabinet comprised people like Arun Singh and Arun Nehru among others who had just stepped out of a corporate culture.

But their contributions to political sloganeering are remembered by none today. News abounded about crores being paid to marketing wizards brought from abroad in those days.

The 1996 ‘Abkee Baari, Atul Bihari’, ‘Congress ka Haath, Aam Aadmi ke Saath’, the 2004 BJP’s ‘India Shines’ are all slogans created by marketing companies.

We all know that political marketing goes beyond just coming up with slogans. That the marketing responsibilities of Delhi’s BJP, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and UP’s Congress are handled by the same group reveal the apolitical professionalism involved.

It is not clear whose professional expert services are made available to the political fronts in Kerala. How much money gets pumped into manufacturing slogans too is unclear. The reality is that everyone of them has sought the services of marketing wizards.

When one decides that truth and principles can go for a toss in marketing, then there’s absolutely no problem.  We need not then debate on right and wrong. What seems ridiculous upfront is what sometimes successfully sells.

A humorous advertising line voiced by a middle-aged company owner on television may actually trigger more discussion than a poem recited by a beautiful film actress.

Will everything be set right?

If we go just by the attention it has garnered, then the LDF advertorial speak can be considered a big hit. The promise is: ‘If the LDF comes to power, then everything will be set right.’

Even God cannot set all things right. But then we needn’t look at that. Since the public consists of donkeys, such a promise is not wrong.

That the Communist party -which has to depend on other parties to even form a government- in a state enslaved to bourgeois capitalism cannot set anything right is something which the CPI(M) itself had admitted to once upon a time. This was proved in West Bengal after its 34 years of rule.

Times may change. But the people here in Kerala do expect at least the Left and its allies to have the courtesy to say and do only what it is actually capable of on ground.


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