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In Nyay versus NaMo, Congress reminder of injustice

How the Congress slogan took shape

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi
  • Published 8.04.19, 7:37 AM
  • Updated 8.04.19, 7:41 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Rahul Gandhi in Pune on Friday. The Congress president on Sunday tweeted: “You can run Mr Modi but you can’t hide. Your karma is about to catch up with you. The country can hear it in your voice. Truth is a powerful thing. I challenge you to a debate on corruption.” Picture by Prem Singh

“Justice” is the theme of the Congress campaign for the general election, reflecting the party’s stand that various sections of society have faced injustice in the past five years and its offer to remedy it.

With its slogan of “Ab hoga nyay (Now we’ll have justice)”, the Congress has primarily sought to portray the Narendra Modi government as an unjust dispensation that the nation must get rid of.

The slogan will also help keep the Nyuntam Aay Yojana — the minimum income guarantee scheme that is the highlight of the party manifesto and has the acronym “Nyay” — in the forefront of the electoral discourse. “Nyay” is the word for “justice” in Hindi and several other Indian languages.

The campaign theme was unveiled on Sunday after months of deliberations involving the top leadership, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in addition to professional agencies, academics, activists and artists.

“After extensive consultations, we decided to focus on the atmosphere of despondency prevailing in the country because those who promised ‘achchhe din’ (good days) ended up inflicting evil days on the country,” Congress publicity committee chief Anand Sharma said.

“There is doubtless a cry for justice in the country while the Prime Minister is busy misleading people and diverting their attention. There is an atmosphere of fear and a feeling of betrayal because the promises made in 2014 were not fulfilled. The jobless youth, despondent farmers, unsafe women, Dalits and minorities — all are crying for justice. That’s why this reflection of the overwhelming national sentiment: Ab hoga nyay.”

All the other slogans too mirror this central theme. The posters and hoardings unveiled on Sunday talk of justice for the poor, farmers, the youth and women while promising a dole of Rs 72,000 a year to every impoverished household.

The other promises include free diagnosis and treatment in government hospitals, free education up to Class XII, fair prices for farm produce, employment for the youth and 33 per cent reservation for women in jobs. One of the main slogans is: “Jan-jan ka adhikar: Samman, suraksha, rozgar (The rights of every citizen: respect, security and livelihood).”

The principal campaign song deals with the same set of issues while countering the BJP’s strident nationalism by stressing that “Hindustan” is about its people, not leaders.

Written by lyricist Javed Akhkar and filmed by Nikhil Advani, the song goes: “Tum jhoothi chaalein chal ke/ Shahron ke naam badal ke/ Noton ko kachra kar ke/ Aur har nirdhan ko chhal ke/ Kahte ho humko chun lo/ Tum bhi hamaari sun lo/ Ab dhokha nahin khayenge/ Congress sarkar layenge (You play tricks/ Change the names of cities/ Destroy currency notes/ Deceive every poor/ Then ask us to elect you/ You too listen to us/ We’ll no longer be duped/ We will elect the Congress).”

It continues: “Sarkar aisi aaye/ Jo sabko de nyay/ Nyay ho unnati ho/ Nyay ho pragati ho/ Nyay kisan paaye/ Har naujawan paaye/ Nyay rozgar laaye/ Mita de nafrat nyay/ Pyar laaye nyay/ Anyay mitane ke liye utha main ek toofan hun/ Main hi to Hindustan hun (May such a government come/ That gives justice to all/ Let there be justice, development and progress/ Let the farmers get justice/ Let every youth get justice/ Let justice bring livelihoods/ Let justice wipe out hatred/ Let justice ignite love/ I am a tempest arisen to wipe out injustice/ Yes, I am India).”

The publicity material, along with the main song and related jingles, will be used in cinemas, hoardings, digital screens and public transport, and across digital platforms and the print, electronic and social media.

The Congress has hired hundreds of container trucks that will criss-cross the country after being blazoned with the “nyay” theme. One such truck, displaying the Rs 72,000-a-year message, was put on show on Sunday.

While Percept is the main professional agency handling the Congress campaign, Silver Push, a firm run by a group of young IITians, will take care of the digital media campaign. Nixon and Design Box too have been engaged.

Sharma said that although the Congress lacked the sort of resources the BJP had, its cost-effective campaign would win hearts with its sincerity.

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