New Delhi, April 6: It was hard to miss the well-dressed man holding aloft the trademark AAP broom, standing on a road divider in South Delhi. Donning the ‘Main Hoon Aam Aadmi’ cap, the supporter was silently campaigning for the 16-month-old party near Lajpat Nagar.
With the polling date drawing closer, political parties are not leaving any stone unturned to woo the voters. From street plays and musical performances to interactive sessions over a cuppa are some of the unusual, yet impactful, methods they are employing to catch their imagination.
While the AAP is “silently” touching the voter’s emotional chords, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has plastered the city with posters of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi screaming out to vote for a “Modi Sarkar”.
Though not as visible as its counterparts, the Congress too is promoting its achievements.
According to Pankaj Gupta, national secretary, Aam Aadmi Party: “It is very easy to recognise our party members and supporters even from a distance because the caps and brooms have become a powerful symbol of our party and ideology.”
“The broom is the new age ‘gada’ (mace) which the supporters can carry along,” Gupta told IANS.
Apart from the age-old favourites like newspaper and television advertisements and rallies to capture the voters – both young and old – the political parties are also using mediums like FM radio, social media, SMSs and even phone calls through which leaders, in recorded messages, ask for the votes.
However, amid this visible clout of expansive campaigning, the BJP is also relying on traditional means like ‘nukkad natak’ (streetcorner plays) and puppet shows.
“What you see on television or read in newspapers is different from what you experience live. In our plays, when the audience sees a man crying because he cannot afford to feed his children, or a woman who is vulnerable to rape, it leaves a lasting impression,” Rajeshwar Nagpal, head of BJP Delhi’s Right to Information cell, explained.
Nagpal added that such activities have a direct impact on the voters and gets them thinking.
“What they see is very much happening in their lives, and hence they can relate to the situation and issues depicted in these plays,” he said, and mentioned that they are highlighting issues like women’s safety, corruption and inflation through these mediums.
The impact of these plays was evident on the psychology of a group of people in north Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh area recently who were watching a play narrating a rickshaw puller’s struggling life.
His moving account was a testimony of growing disparity between the rich and the poor, and other issues plaguing the common man.
As expected, the connect was successful to the last voter, and left the audience teary eyed.
It is not just parties that are evolving new methods to hook the voters; even candidates are coming out with innovative ideas.
The Congress party’s candidate from the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency and party general secretary, Ajay Maken, is making use of short-flims made using camera phones as part of his campaign strategy.
A Congress spokesperson told IANS that party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s meetings with people of varied backgrounds at the grassroots level is also a part of the campaign strategy.
“Rahul Gandhi met rickshaw pullers and auto drivers in Varanasi, tribal women in Ranchi and students in Guwahati. In these meetings, he came across as a keen listener who was more interested in knowing what problems people were facing and how these issues could be addressed in the party manifesto,” the spokesperson explained.
On being asked about the budget allocated for these campaigns, the BJP didn’t reveal any figures, while AAP said its volunteers plan out the campaign strategy on their own.
“We only have white money and hence don’t have much to invest in newspaper and television campaigns,” Gupta said.
Apart from this, AAP is also connecting with the audience in a musical way, through its “Band of Activists”.
The party has found support in a group of young hobby singers who have formed a band and plan to campaign in cities big and small to woo young voters.
The BJP too is promoting “Modi’s development vision” through CDs.
“People call their friends and acquaintances who meet at someone’s place and watch a CD that focusses more on solutions and talks about Modiji’s work and his future plans. This is what we are calling ‘Chai pe Charcha’,” a BJP leader explained.
(Shweta Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; Shilpa Raina can be contacted at email@example.com)