Delhi Musings: BJP’s ‘creative’ content and Delhi Police upholding motto of 'peace, justice, service'
Will AK’s perfectly honed skills of catching votes trump BJP’s formidable propaganda machinery in the upcoming Delhi civic body polls?
Elections to the municipal corporations in Delhi are round the corner and no sooner the counting gets over in the five election-bound states – politicians of all hues will descend on the capital. The murmurs that began a few months back with AAP and BJP taking pot shots at each other -- blaming the other of corruption will now metamorphose into a full-blown slanging match.
AAP wants Dilliwallahs to believe that BJP-governed municipalities are thoroughly corrupt. Pushed back against the wall with volleys of accusations, the BJP is carpet bombing voters with messages through a well-crafted social media strategy. Newspaper reports recently quoted a Delhi BJP functionary claiming that the party has as many as 37 WhatsApp groups of senior leaders with each of these groups having 256 members in turn. All these people have their own groups of party cadres and workers as members and all of them are constantly fed with ‘creative’ content.
This matrix ensures that the messages reach up to three lakh people as per a conservative estimate. Such messages get amplified further in the groups that these people are a part of. No wonder the groups that a normal, apolitical Dilliwallah is a member of gets such well-crafted messaging. Some even call it propaganda.
It is a well-oiled machinery that takes every step or misstep of the government at the Centre or by the three municipalities in Delhi and turns it into stories. Take for example the decision of the central government to send a few ministers to the countries neighbouring the war-torn Ukraine to bring students stranded there back to India. This news popped up on many WhatsApp groups claiming this to a first kind of a step taken by our government. And it was forwarded with congratulatory and celebratory emojis to other groups. Mind you there is no trace back to the source; therefore, you can’t pin down anyone.
Most millennials, who form a large chunk of the vote bank, will have little clue of the efforts of the Indian government in bringing back over one and a half lakh Indians from Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf war in 1990. Some of them even believe that the effort during the crisis was what was projected by that Canadian Cine-star in a movie that he also co-produced while the government of the day did nothing.
It is for nothing that the actor shared his largesse with PM-CARES in addition to figuring out how our PM eats his mangoes! Ukraine is far, very far. Dilliwallahs still wonder why no minister could find his or her way to Singhu or Tikri or Ghazipur border on the periphery of Delhi right through those 358 days of the farmers' protest?
Protestors Beware: Poor Dilliwallahs – they continue to be flummoxed by all that’s happening around them. And now they will be wary of protesting too. Delhi Police is preparing to procure pump-action rifles (PAR) to check aggressive crowds and protestors. Though supposedly non-lethal, this weapon is most likely to be added to the inventory along with water canons, batons or laathis, fists and abuses. Sometimes one wonders at the relevance of their motto ‘Peace, Justice, Service’.
Since our man AK is busy campaigning in Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand – he may not have taken note of this development, otherwise the issue has the potential of becoming a contentious one. Delhi Police, as we know, is not under Delhi CM’s purview and comes under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. So before the cops acquire PARs there is time for AK to organise what he is a champion in– protests!
A skilled vote-catcher: All said and done, our man AK needs to be very wary of what he is up against in trying to topple BJP from the municipalities. But then by now he is a seasoned operator himself. Did he not organise Diwali celebrations in front of a replica of Ram Mandir that’s coming up at Ayodhya? And now with the staging of a play on B.R. Ambedkar – our man clearly understands the pitch and is playing on the front foot. The transformation of AK into a thick skinned vote-catcher seems to be complete. Kumar Vishwas needs to simply write him off and go back to writing couplets.
(The writer blogs at stateofdelhi.in. This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)