Punjab Assembly Election 2017: Congress to play the 'outsider vs insider' card against AAP

A single statement made by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls in 2015, left the prospects of the BJP seriously damaged.

"Reservation should be on economic basis," he had said in an interview.

Nitish Kumar's strategists were quick to pounce on it and give it an electoral spin. The man behind that clever move was Prashant Kishor, the chief minister's poll strategist who is now giving his services to the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand for the upcoming polls.

Kishor is now planning to give Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia’s recent statement on Arvind Kejriwal as the chief ministerial face of the party a similar spin. Similar to the ‘Bihari vs Bahari' slogan, he has started an ‘outsider vs insider’ debate in Punjab.

A cartoon used by Congress to campaign against the AAP in Punjab.

A cartoon used by Congress to campaign against the AAP in Punjab.

Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, had said on 10 January that people of Punjab should cast their votes "assuming that Kejriwal will be the chief minister of Punjab". His comments drew strong reactions from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress in the state.

Backed by its phenomenal success in Delhi Assembly election and with its only four MPs, all from Punjab, the AAP has posed a tough challenge to both SAD and Congress in Punjab.

The Punjab Congress and Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC team have chalked out a strategy to use Sisodia’s statement with a counter-narrative — ‘outsider versus insider’ — and take it to public.

“The entire branding of Punjab Congress and its chief Amarinder Singh has been designed around Punjab, Punjabi, Punjabiyat, so that it could resonate strongly among the voters of Punjab. The key focus was on the ‘Punjab vs Non-Punjabi’ narrative. Now, we have planned a new narrative and will take it to multiple platforms,” a source close to the Congress strategy team told Firstpost.

The Punjab Congress chief launched his campaign with catchy slogans and themes like ‘Chaunda hai Punjab, Captain di Sarkar’; ‘Coffee with Captain’, etc.

The ‘insider vs outsider’ strategy

The Congress now wants to make a strong pitch across the state with a campaign song that underlines the new theme ‘insider vs outsider’:
Gairan de hath dor na deni, gair tan haunde gair...Ghar da banda howe jehra, ghar di mange kher...Mitti ki rag rag jaane, agla pichla sab pehchane (Do not give the reigns to an outsider, he is an outsider after all...The one who belongs to the state is the one who wishes for the betterment of home. He is the one who knows the history of the land and its people).

The Punjab Congress team led by Amarinder and backed by I-PAC will take this narrative to social media, public rallies, mass contact programmes and door-to-door campaigning. Cartoons, sketches, slogans and seeking public referendum will be used as tools to propagate the message.

“Congress will unleash a massive campaign through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to evoke the Punjabiyat narrative and a debate on the ‘insider vs outsider CM’. We want to make it a talking point in every public rally and meeting to seek people’s referendum on whether the chief minister should be a Punjabi or Bahari — a Punjabi or an outsider,” a Punjab Pradesh Congress source said.

Will it work against Badals?

The Congress has an answer to this as well. And they have coined a slogan to counter SAD and the Badals.

“Badals are Punjabis and insiders as well, but we’re looking at the anti-incumbency factor against the SAD government. People in Punjab are fed up due to the misrule, poor governance, rise in crime and drug menace. So, Punjab needs a Punjabi to lead it and it’s Punjab da Captain Amarinder Singh,” the source added.

Published Date: Jan 12, 2017 19:29 PM | Updated Date: Jan 12, 2017 19:43 PM

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