Beedi to baboons, election catch-lines attract voters

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One may wonder how smoking a 'beedi' can become part of an election slogan but it did in 1967 when Jan Sangh sought votes in the Lok Sabha elections.

Its catch-line 'Jan Sangh ko Vote Doh, Beedi Peena Chhod Doh. Beedi mein Tambaku hai' Congress-wala Daaku hai' (Vote for Jan Sangh, Stop smoking. Bidi has tobacco, Congressmen are dacoits) might not have yielded Jan Sangh much in that elections but such catchy and peppy slogans have attracted the imagination of voters.

This time, the BJP has now come up with 'Namumkin ab Mumkin hai' (Impossible has now become possible) and Main Bhi Chowkidar (I am also a watchman) while main opposition Congress is yet to finalise its catch-line.

Last elections, BJP came up with 'Ab ki Baar, Modi Sarkar' (This time, Modi Government) while Congress had 'Main Nahi, Hum' (Not Me But Us) and 'Har Haath Sakti, Har Haath Tarakki' (Power in Every Hand, Progress for Everyone).

One may now feel now it staid the 1951 slogan 'Self Reliance' though it reflected a budding democracy's aspiration, but slowly and steadily parties' catch-lines got imaginative.

If Lal Bahadur Shastri coined the 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan', Indira Gandhi was quick to turn the tables on her detractors in the party who wanted her ouster saying "they say 'Indira Hatao' (oust Indira, I say 'Garibi Hatao (remove poverty)" and the catch-line 'Garibi Hatao' continue to resonate in elections.

Indira Gandhi dominated the slogans in the 1970s and till mid-1980s. Not long after Dev Kanth Baruah coined 'India is Indira, Indira is India, the 1977 elections after the Emergency heard the slogan again 'Indira Hatao, Desh Bachao' (Remove Indira, Save India).

But soon after in 1978 bypolls in Karnataka's Chikmagalur when Indira herself came to fight the polls, the Congress had seen some resurgence.

The slogan 'Ek Sherni, Sau Langoor, Chikmaglur, bhai, Chikmaglur' (One Lioness, 100 baboons. This Chikmaglur, brother, Chikmaglur) resonated the Karnataka seat. Many credit poet Srikanth Verma for the catch-line while some others give it to Congress leader Devaraj Urs.

The 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi saw the emotional pitch 'jab tak suraj, chand rahega, Indira tera naam rahega' (Till sun and moon remain, Indira, you will remain immortal) while in 1989 Congress came up with 'Give Unity A Hand' and 'My Heart Beats for India'.

Another peppy one was in 1993 when Samajwadi Party and BSP came together in Uttar Pradesh after the Babri Masjid demolition and coined 'Mile Mulayam-Kanshiram, hawa ho gaye Jai Sri Ram (Mulayam-Kanshiram have come together, Jai Sri Ram has blown over).

In 1996 when P V Narasimha Rao sought re-election, BJP came up with 'Bari Bari Sabki Bari, Abki Bari Atal Bihari (Everybody will get their chance. Now, it's Atal Bihari turn). Rao's 'Jaat par na pat par, mohar lagegi haath par' (Vote not on caste or creed, Vote on Hand).

If 1996 did not bring much luck to BJP, the 1999 elections saw the party coining 'Jancha, Parkha, Khara' (Tried, Tested, Trusted) and this time BJP ruled for five years. But the 'India Shining' in 2004 saw being crushed under 'Congress ka haath, Aam Aadmi ke Saath' (Congress' Hand with Common Man).

The regional parties are also game for catchy slogans. BSP once used, 'chalega haathi, udega dhool, na rahega haath, na rahega phool' (When Elephant runs, neither Hand nor Lotus will remain).

AAP is another party which used interesting catch-lines like 'Paanch Saal Kejriwal' (Five Years for Kejriwal) as it sought majority on its own. Trinamool Congress coined Maa, Maati, Maanush (Mother, Motherland, People) in 2009 West Bengal polls.

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Beedi to baboons, election catch-lines attract voters

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