Leading the country in celebrating 75 years of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to build a stronger India. His deadline for a “developed nation” is now 25 years, in time to chime with the centenary celebrations. NaMo spoke about nari shakti, the end of the ghulami culture. He spoke fiercely against corruption as he addressed the nation from the Red Fort.
However, while promising new horizons, whatever happened to delivering previously made promises from the same venue – the ramparts of the historic Red Fort. Significant being, failure to create one crore jobs in India, dipping spends on education despite repeated assurances and of course, build a “peaceful and secure” environment?
A day later, instead of responding to the criticism, the BJP did what it does best – ignore accusations of non-delivery of promises made over the years. The party’s social media team released a new campaign. Desh Ki Badli Soch, evidently reeled to target the Congress party, especially the leaders who previously served as Prime Ministers of India. The copy-paste pseudo-documentary unfairly juxtaposes Modi’s “pearls of wisdom” with those said in the same context, though vastly differing contextually, by previous PMs. Notable targets being Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Manmohan Singh.
Interestingly, the research for this campaign was drawn from a special programme: Lal Qiley Se Goonj: Alag-Alag Pradhan Mantriyon Ki Zubani. This, in turn, was produced by pro-BJP actor Anupam Kher’s company for AETN18 Media Pvt Ltd, which operates and owns History TV18 and is part of the News18 group.
Kher also anchored the show while the shooting was done at the newly opened Prime Ministers’ Museum in Delhi’s Teen Murti Bhavan, which used to be Jawaharlal Nehru’s residence once. This programme was telecast on August 16 on the group’s channels and, reportedly, on other channels too.
The purpose of Kher’s show was to belittle prime ministers prior to Modi while projecting him as the only one with the correct vision for the nation’s development. Within hours of the programme’s telecast, the BJP flagged off its new social media campaign with a video that clipped and copy-pasted parts from the show, including a small bit of the actor’s opening lines.
Political parties critical of the BJP responded by tweeting and circulating retaliatory video clips of the Modi’s previous speeches, in which he made promises that remain undelivered.
However, the portions picked up by the BJP for its social media campaign require an examination to assess if they pass the test of scrutiny. For instance, Nehru’s statement on hunger was twisted to hail Modi. The accusation was, that instead of making efforts to boost agricultural production, Nehru asked people in 1949 to control consumption. While that is the claim, the truth that rings in the voice of Nehru is in total contrast.
“We face two big challenges,” Nehru stated. “The question of food and producing it. Not wasting food. Those people who waste food, those who are ostentatious and want to show off, and waste food, do gunah or crime against the nation.” Likewise, the section where Indira Gandhi is labelled as being “distrustful of people.”
These are just two twists to real History. BJP seeks to re-write History with this campaign. Unfortunately, it cannot re-write truth or time. Neither can it undo contributions made by the Congress to nascent India.