When I open my Facebook, Whatsapp atleast one of two posts are either glorifying our Prime Minister or mockery of political leaders, sometime including Modi. It is becoming a trend just to forward messages of your favourite political leaders, defamation of your unfavoured political leaders that goes viral to many many in few minutes. It is easy for everyone just to make a click, but do you think it is a right practice? Is that okay to forward political messages to our known or unknown group of our friends & relatives, topics we hesitate to discuss when we meet them in person?
Look at glorifying the personality cult,
The so called ‘Educated crowd’, who criticised the downtrodden people for their craziness for MGR in Tamilnadu and NTR in Andhra those days, are now adopting the same for Modi. People believed MGR is the super hero, the messiah to save Tamilnadu, who can never go wrong, and started vehemently opposing their critics. They started viewing opposition parties as real villains for their hero and abuse them (off course, the opposition were no less in their part to build their own cult and counterattack). Leader’s strength doesn’t exist in their policies or governance but people’s blind passion with them. I am not commenting anything on MGR or NTR administration here, but I am stressing the point people had lost their sense to think neutrally. I don’t think any difference now between MGR craziness and Modi craziness, the madness has now shifted from uneducated mass to educated few.
To some extent Rajiv Gandhi enjoyed this, when he became Prime minister in 1984, same evening after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in the morning. That time he was just an MP, not even a cabinet minister, who returned India three years back, was given a position of PM for the world’s biggest democratic country. Not considering him a novice to politics, the sympathy factor and the fact being a young handsome PM, who tours a lot to bring India image, elevated him as the greatest PM of India and one of the important world leaders. Charisma has been built on him as visionary who can lead India to 21st century and people had natural inclination towards him. Ironically, same set of educated mass who crazily supported Rajiv Gandhi (and Indira’s regime as well) now forwarding messages how congress spoiled the country for 40 years. Other ‘Social media innocence’ Prime Ministers like PV Narasima Rao, Vajpayee & Manmohan Singh are open to credits or critics only based on their work and policies, who could not build that kind of image.
Engaging the media partner for election campaigns was initiated by Congress during 1989 elections, where Rediffusion, a top most ad agency of India, was placed to promote ‘Brand Congress’ when all the opposition formed National Front. In 2004, BJP government signed with another agency for their ‘India Shining’ campaign. Both campaigns aimed at promoting their political party as saviour of India, but not aimed at individual branding and miserably failed. In 2014, Modi took a different route with social media. He engaged Prashant Kishore, a political strategist who employs professionals from IITs & IIMs along with other top agencies like O&M, Madison world. They all worked together and successfully created ‘Brand Modi’ instead of ‘Brand BJP’. The forceful reflections like ‘Modi is the messiah of India’, ‘India fights second independence’, ‘Modi will emulate Gujarat success’, made people to provide massive mandate to BJP, and of course, also with the help of previous corrupted congress government with their series of scams.
The same Prashant Kishore was hired by Nitish Kumar for recent Bihar elections, which worked against Modi. I read an article in a news magazine that Congress is trying to place him for upcoming UP elections, and DMK is trying their luck for Tamilnadu elections.
BJP now understood the concept of ‘Voters as promoters’ and extended engaging their supporters to keep spreading ‘Brand Modi’ across social media even after elections. BJP voters are persuaded not to differentiate between liking towards a political leader and promoting the political leader. The indirect motto is ‘Since you voted for Modi, you need to promote his brand, need to belittle our political opponents, accept whatever he does is best because India has no options’ and identified social media as the best source for it. I hardly find people in social media who could stand-up and say – “Yes... we definitely wanted change hence voted BJP to power, but doesn’t mean I should keep supporting everything this government does; I stand by my own evaluation”
Here I am definitely not contemplating good or bad about the current government, only claiming we unnecessarily engage in a party’s brand building exercise without being a party member. Appreciating or criticising this government can be issue based, a different subject altogether.
Now look at negative Memes,
This trend cached-up with Tamil nadu politics as well last year, as many political parties created their own ‘Memes Factory’ to revenge their opponents. We also involve ourselves in this tussle, and shamelessly forward these, again based our political prejudice. The nastiest allegations which DMK & ADMK promulgating in the stages last 40 years, are now available in the form of Memes and we share it with all without an iota of embarrassment. The worst affected in this brawl is Vijayakanth, whose image is totally tarnished.
Here in Tamilnadu, people generally forward messages or memes with poignant and personal criticisms of Modis, Sonias, Rahuls, Karunanidhis, Vijayakanths, Lalus but not Jayalalitha. Doesn’t mean she is not subject to any criticisms, but the fear factor prevents people from pressing the forward button. Many people are arrested for spreading messages against CM in Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. We can forward messages that claim Modi as Hindutva terrorist, declare Sonia as Christian patriot, make mockery of Karunanidhi’s family members, craft Rahul or Vijaykanth as foolish ducks, without any fear, but settle only with mild comments against Jayalalitha. So we work with a very clear mindset – “I can forward any malicious message against someone, I can push my political will to my entire group in social media, not just bothered others may have different political stand, as long as it doesn’t concern my safety”.
Are we just unpaid workers for a political party to spread their messages and memes across? Are we not aware these political parties utilize our gullible mindset for their benefit? Are we really aware where these messages are originating from and we are being trapped to forward? Are you aware you are communicating your biased opinion to thousands of people who may have different political affiliations?
We have no right to pollute other’s mind with the information that we are not sure of. Allow everyone to think on their own. The worst destiny in this county is likeness towards a political leader goes only with perceptions and not with clear thought process. If we really want to appreciate or criticise any government policies or political stand, let us write on our own with clear facts and sensible contemplation. Just popularizing our favourite political leader’s image by liking his facebook updates or forwarding memes, will only make us an unpaid cheap worker for them. We are unknowingly losing our self-dignity, which we keep ridiculing the Dravidian party workers all along – for their flattering, pasting posters, putting flags and flexes in the middle of the road, which we currently do ‘digitally’ sitting at home.
If this trend goes on, we will not be electing any political party in the next election, but only a ‘Best Advertising Agency’.