BJP takes social media campaign war to Congress ahead of Gujarat polls: #ModiCheNe clashes with #VikasGandoThayoChe

A month before Gujarat elects its next government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a major social media campaign pitching Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the saviour for the state, who will rid the people of Gujarat of what ails it — Congress and the Patidars.

In the past month, the saffron party has launched several videos that deflect attention to the national political scene, hail Modi, target the Congress and other Opposition parties and stress on the fact that election in Gujarat is an actual precursor to the 2019 Lok Sabha Election. The videos, that highlight Modi's policies, have been invading social media with statistics, jibes and soundbites by leaders from other parties as well that have been dubbed as 'lies'.

In the video featuring popular actor Manoj Joshi, who holds a sandwich to illustrate how the Congress party apparently stands for 'divide and rule'. Using the separate segments of a sandwich — ie the slices of bread, Joshi says Congress' vote-bank politics through KHAM theory is one of the many divide-and-rule ploys used by the Opposition party. The video taunts Congress' claims that it is a 100 percent secular party despite a "little bit" of corruption.

The main theme in all the campaign videos is policies adopted by the Modi government at the Centre while they stress on the developmental projects launched in Gujarat. The video mentions the Narmada Sarovar project and the recently-launched bullet train project in the state and says that no one thinks of progress except the prime minister. "It is only Modi who is trying to do vikaas for all..."

The five-minute video featuring Joshi, manifests Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as book covers, and almost equates Modi with the two leaders. "Mahatma gave the world the message of peace. Sardar unified India and Modi will take India to newer heights (sic)," the video notes.

Development, Gujarati pride, policies launched by Modi and that the Opposition — especially the Congress — is corrupt and alien to Indian culture, are the dominant themes in most of BJP videos. The #ModiCheNe was one of the top trends on Twitter on Tuesday. Other videos, with #ModiCheNe, stressed on how the nation and Gujarat, needn't worry about problematic elements like Patels, etc, "because Modi hai na".

The other video hails Modi as a leader who took the pain to open lakhs of bank accounts for the poor instead of filling up his own. The lead character further says that Modi took ‘risky’ and ‘suicidal’ decisions like demo​ne​tisation and surgical strikes on his own ‘knowing fully well that if the system did not support him, he would be finished’. "Modi wakes up at 5 am everyday, works without taking leave and spends Diwali on border with soldiers (sic)," the video added.

All videos end with the same line: "I am Vikas, I am Gujarat" and apart from the Congress, it also attacks the media for questioning a prime minister like Modi who is the only one interested in "setting the country." "If Modi failed today, then no prime minister will dare to fight corruption in next 100 years…" As the journalists in the video listen to this speech dumbfounded, the lead actor in the ad ends it by saying: "I am Vikas, I am Gujarat."

The social media blitzkrieg isn't just a BJP handiwork, Congress is at it too. In fact, Twitter handles @INCGujarat, @BJP4India, @BJP4Gujarat and @INCIndia have launched social media battle of 'truth and falsehood', where each party has posted series of videos, countering each other's statements (especially those made by Rahul Gandhi and Modi) claiming which is true and which is false.

The BJP videos begin with Rahul's claims, being countered by commendation by farmers and businessmen giving "their side of the story." One of the video begins with an introduction with text in Gujarati that reads, "Rahul Gandhi, of the Congress party, that kept the Narmada Project — the lifeline of Gujarat — in suspension for 56 years, is now coming to Gujarat to spread lies."

In another video, the BJP tries to counter Rahul's claim that Gujarati youths are suffering due to unemployment. The video opens with a clip of Congress vice-president's Bharuch speech where he had said, “Today, as many as 30 lakh youths are unemployed in Gujarat.” The soundbite is followed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s answer to a news channel, in which he had quoted statistics of the Central government.

This and many such videos are drowning Twitter and Facebook as the BJP is using its virtual presence as a handy tool to hit out at its Opposition Congress. From #VikasGandoThayoChe, #Gujarat4Vikas, #ModiCheNe and many such hashtags, the two major parties are using social media to win over voters and discredit the competition. While Congress is attacking the "development model of Gujarat", the ruling party is sticking to its guns and pushing the developmental agenda which has so far worked in its favour.

Congress has a tougher job on its hand as far as virtual footing is concerned, because the BJP holds a stronger hand. The need to rebuild an image on social media, which is far from weak and a faltering party, is Congress' main goal. Rohan Gupta, the Congress’s head of social media in Gujarat, told ThePrint, "Closer to the election, our social media strategy will be more candidate-driven. We have to make sure people put their full faith in the Congress."

Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 17:06 PM

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