Justalkin Episode 45: Traditional and radical election campaigns
This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com. Elections in India are a great source of entertainment. It’s like a production of the biggest play considering all the drama that takes place - billions of rupees spent to get a billion voters to the booths, so the elected people can make those billions back. If you keep your eyes and ears open you’ll read about all the tricks of the trade that politicians employ to be noticed, and stay at the top of their game.
Social media, including TikTok
Bots have always been a topic of disparity. But that hasn’t stopped our political parties into venturing into the virtual world to spread the web of their political agendas. There’s no denying that social media now plays a huge role in tilting the opinions of people. They’re all present on the regular platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But this season, politicians, having realised that they have to keep up with the times, are also present on TikTok! Some intentionally, some not, where political speeches have become material for funny sketches!
Movies and biopics
Over the last few months there has been a steady stream of movies and series that reflect the lives of some of our most enterprising politicians. Or at least, that’s what they would like us to think of them. We assume we’re being entertained, but it’s the most subtle form of marketing and telling us what to think. But next time you watch a movie based on politics or politicians, think - are they acting in the movie? Or do they act at rallies? Because they are pretty similar in all that they do on camera.
Creating photo ops and using photoshop
One of the oldest tricks in the book during election season, is being in the right place at the right time and clicking pictures. Being seen at railway stations, rallies, weddings and other ceremonies of party members is mandatory for local politicians. Hema Malini recently went to her constituency Mathura to campaign, and she thought pictures of her in the fields with farmer women and lifting bales of hay would do the trick of getting her more votes, but it went completely downhill when all that happened was some trolling online. That picture WAS worth a thousand words, and not very nice ones.
Temple Runs and conducting Poojas
Astrology is quite popular in India across fields, so politicians can’t be left behind. They probably visit astrologers more than bureaucrats. We’ve read about poojas being conducted across the country to help polarise votes, nominations being filed on lucky days and lucky times, party symbols being chosen according to astrology, and even buildings being abandoned because of Vaastu issues - for example the massive Vikas Soudha in Bengaluru. So the next time you complain about tax payers money being badly utilised, don’t blame the politicians, blame the planets!
Brass bands and firecrackers
Whatever the celebration in India, brass bands and firecrackers are a must. Brass bands lighten the mood and bring people out and pit them together on the streets, to enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted bliss before disappointment in politician performance hits us after elections. Fireworks are a must to gather attention and crowds, so much so that sometimes politicians have needed rescuing from loose firecrackers that are lit in massive crowds that throng these events. That’s a celebration nobody will forget!
Politicians used to want to be powerful personalities, but in this day and age they see advantage in being considered normal, like an everyday human. They take all sorts of measures to seem as normal as possible, for example taking up blue collar labor like pressing clothes, going on morning walks, being seen eating at the local eatery, leaving their fancy cars behind and riding bicycles or motorbikes, all the while making sure they are being photographed. Normal is the new celebrity status, and it’s a surprise they manage these stunts without any doubles.
Garlands are the easiest signs to tell a successful function from one that’s not - a politician who gets garlanded 20 times in 60 seconds is a sure shot hit. Party workers take all sorts of measures to procure fancy garlands, made of fancy flowers, or ones that are the heaviest in the constituency, or even some that are made of currency notes. Once in a while a disgruntled citizen manages to slip in a garland made of slippers, and goes unnoticed for a few seconds before all hell breaks loose, and in the times we live in, till the video manages to go viral.
Getting down on ground
On ground marketing is crucial in times like India. We’ve already seen mainstream products like caps, bottles and T-shirts being branded with political symbols. Every election, we see branded bicycles, mixers, TVs, sewing machines and grinders being given away. But to up their game, politicians have kept up with the times, and are now distributing politically branded mobile phone covers, wallets, stickers, coffee mugs and even balloons! Way to light up a party!
Election time is always exciting in India because although we are a democracy and we put people in power, we have no say in direct decision making, but our politicians provide us uninterrupted drama to make up for it, so we can just sit back and enjoy the show.
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