I predict that once the dust on 2019 General Elections is settled in May, the BJP’s tagline of #MainBhiChowkidar” would be a textbook study on how to run a successful social media campaign.
Within a few hours of launching their “Modi Hai to Mumkin Hai” poll slogan, the BJP took the wind (of whatever was left) out of Rahul Gandhi’s sails by stepping on to #MainBhiChowkidar” tagline on social media. In no time, it was trending more than anything else around the world. The PM now has a “Main Bhi Chowkidar” programme lined up for March 31.
First came a personal appeal from the Prime Minister himself to back the #MainBhiChowkidar tagline on twitter which he followed up by changing his name to “Chowkidar Narendra Modi” on his Twitter profile. It followed a digital stampede: Those who had backed the tagline lost little time in suffixing “Chowkidar” in front of their names.
It was a master strategy to tie Rahul Gandhi’s in knots. Gandhi has been unwilling to give up on Rafale even after the Supreme Court judgment and has lost no opportunity to shout “Chowkidar Chor Hai” in his election rallies. Would he do the same now? Or drop his months of investment in the Rafale disinformation campaign?
Congress seems tepid in its response. In 24 hours, Rahul Gandhi has taken tentative steps on Twitter. He said everyone is saying #ChowkidarChorHai without quite making it his own comment. His generals, Sashi Tharoor and Randeep Surjewala also beat around the bush. PC Chidambaram cracked a poor joke on it; Jyoiraditya Scindia was clever by half; Journalists suspected of belonging to the camp, the likes of Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and Shekhar Gupta, have made inane references. Lutyens Media is doing its bid by making #MainBhiChowkidar video invisible on the net (here it is just for you folks). The sting has gone out of #ChowkidarChorHai agenda.
It’s unlikely though that Rahul Gandhi would drop his attempts to defame the Prime Minister. As everyone knows, Gandhi is all about anti-Modi and national issues are beyond his grasp. However, his shrill campaign would look downright silly if nothing comes out of review petition on Rafale next week. He would only be firing blank bullets once Supreme Court turns down orchestration on Rafale again.
As millions turn “chowkidar”, Congress can’t be seen calling the masses as “chor.” By doing so, Rahul Gandhi would also appear elitist. It would appear fake too since Rahul Gandhi himself is out on bail on corruption charges in the National Herald case. But if he doesn’t carry on with his one and only theme, what would he say in rallies?
Running social media campaign of this magnitude needs clock-work precision. It’s not only about creating a campaign but also how to turn others’ to your benefit. This is a 24×7 endless marathon of skill and energy; creativity and thrust. Audio and visual campaigns are needed and put out in minutes. If funds alone were the differentiating issue, Congress could’ve won hands down.
BJP was much praised for its social media finesse in 2014 (Remember how it turned Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “chaiwala” jibe to its advantage?). The one in 2019 looks no different. It’s gathering the mass under the BJP umbrella. Only, this present one is a silver bullet against a formidable ecosystem. There was a fire in the kitchen but they didn’t get out. They stood their ground on the burning deck. It would be worth its weight in gold, come May 23.
Author of “How United States Shot Humanity”, Senior Journalist, TV Presenter