Rahul Gandhi interacts with party leaders during the ad shoot at Jindal House in New Delhi on March 27. (Below) Deepika Singh Pandey and Sukhdeo Bhagat
Ranchi, April 2: Jharkhand’s Deepika Singh Pandey, 38, who is the Youth Congress national general secretary and Northeast in-charge, belongs to a political family with a twist.
Coming from a family of diehard Congress leaders, her parents Pratibha and Arun Pandey defected to join the BJP. Ask her how she feels to be in Congress — vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s core group, no less — when her parents are in what her party nicknames Bharat Jalao Party, she says disarmingly: “Better ask them (her parents) why they left the Congress. Something must have horribly gone wrong. Otherwise, nobody will leave this party.”
Such loyalty merits its own reward. No wonder, Deepika, along with Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Chief Sukhdeo Bhagat, 48, features in the 35-seconds-long Lok Sabha campaign ad of the grand old party with jeans-and-kurta-clad Rahul and a battery of nationally known names — Sachin Pilot, Ajay Maken, Priya Dutt, Kumari Shailja, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Naveen Jindal.
Team Congress and Rahul, in a bid to counter NaMo’s “carpet-bombing” virtually everywhere, shot the ad that showcased the “strong hand” factor. Directed by Gajaraj Rao, who was hired by Japanese ad firm Dentsu, it started beaming since Tuesday, April 1.
Deepika said she was lucky to have “regular meetings with Rahulji”. “He takes a lot of interest in strengthening Youth Congress. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that this particular meeting resulted in the ad shoot,” she smiled. “Now that it’s done, I feel happy that my dedication towards my party has been recognised.”
Pandey was elected as Youth Congress state general secretary in 2011. She became part of Rahul’s core team this January, elected as Youth Congress national general secretary.
Besides the Congress team, the ad features labourers, rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, handloom workers — working India — with beaming smiles, as issues of health, security, education and jobs are raised. With punch lines such as Bharat ke majboot haath ham sab hain ek saath and har haath shakti har haath tarakki, the ad steers clear of controversies such as BJP’s recent Har Har Modi ghar ghar Modi, which had to be scrapped when many, including RSS, termed “human worship”.
The Congress ad was shot on March 27 at Jindal House in New Delhi when Rahul invited 150 Congress leaders below 50 for lengthy interactions over scores of issues.
When contacted, state Congress president Bhagat dismissed notions of celebrity.
“The fact that I am in a Congress ad isn’t important. What is important is the fact that there is a silent wave in the favour of the Congress across the country. Yes, this ad will make an impact on all the voters who are supporting a leader with a progressive outlook,” he said.
Ask how their ad differs from Modi and BJP promotions, Deepika said: “Modi’s ad is full self-aggrandisement while ours talks about the people.”
May 16 will show which spin India chose to believe.