Chowkidar and Chor are on two sides of a very faint and bleak line carved in sand. In 2014, Narendra Modi had promised us that he would stay on the watch and help fight corruption. But the recent Rafael investigations point towards the contrary.
Rahul Gandhi has been more than vocal with his statement “Chowkidar hi chor hai” at numerous INC rallies. But in this commotion it can be easy to lose sight of the real issues being faced by our country.
Chowkidar: New Election, New Jumla
The Chowkidar and the Chor campaign have reduced elections to a game of who can seduce the voters better rather than who can govern better.
Priyanka Gandhi did not miss out on the opportunity when she said that Chowkidars are for rich people and not farmers.
After receiving much applause for this statement in Varanasi, it is safe to wonder if Modi’s #MainBhiChowkidar movement will backfire and decimate the BJP in the coming elections.
Lost opportunity for the opposition
It may be confusing for an outsider to look at election campaigning in India. It is so because the ruling party has realised that it has nothing to show the voters in the coming elections. Hence, Modi is doing exactly what he did in 2014 elections. He is promising a better India or ‘Naya Bharat’.
But hidden behind this facade of hashtags and promises are the stark failures of the BJP. In 2014, higher employment, economic prosperity and better lives all packaged into “Acche din” were promised to the masses. However, unemployment is at an all time high and the demonetization of 2016 has brought economic growth to a sluggish pace with farmers and small cash businesses paying dearly.
Following the Balakot airstrikes earlier this year, the BJP had managed to create a wave of nationalism with jingoistic supporters rising and calling out their support. IAF Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s return to India from Pakistan too was politicised by the ruling party to set foundation for their election campaign.
The opposition decided to hit back by asking for proof of the airstrikes and crediting the pilot’s return to Pakistan’s commitment to the peace and the Geneva Conventions. The BJP tried to distract everyone with its onslaught of hashtags like #ChowkidarPhirSe and #MeinBhiChowkidar. The opposition struggled to highlight real issues like unemployment, corruption within the ruling party.
Dominating the trending game
If we consider the numbers being stated by news channels such as India Today, #MainBhiChowkidar was trending on twitter and received over 1.5 million mentions. Amit Shah’s #ChowkidarPhirSe received 3,00,000 mentions but INC’s #ChowkidarChorHai received 1,63,000 mentions, almost 10 percent of the latter. Thus, BJP’s twitter reign has boomed but we need to understand that not every voter is active on twitter.
Loss for Voters, Loss of Democracy
In this scurry of hashtags and slogans, the real issues that need attention from voters lay ignored. Failure of opposition and the media to highlight the problems could damage opposition’s prospect badly.
An informed and educated voter is beneficial for the democracy. Opposition shouldn’t fall prey on Jumlas. Else the country should expect another Jumla Sarkar.