Andrew Buncombe: Victory could hinge on the right slogan

Delhi Notebook: There's a tradition of political slogans winning and losing elections, so it's no wonder the parties want the perfect catchphrase

Share
Related Topics

The world's biggest election is just weeks away, and in Delhi the mood among the political classes is feverish. With an electorate of more than 700 million and 47 different parties, no trick is being ignored to lure voters.

I've enjoyed the efforts of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its octogenarian leader LK Advani to make a play for the internet generation by recruiting its own bloggers. The governing Congress Party, meanwhile, is trying to highlight its achievements over the last five years amid the global downturn. What particularly caught my eye was the effort to find the best slogan.

There's a tradition of political slogans winning and losing elections, so it's no wonder the parties want the perfect catchphrase. Congress has spent £130,000 on buying rights to the song Jai Ho ("Let there be victory") featured in Slumdog Millionaire. It is also ready to roll out the workmanlike "In unity lies India's strength, in unity lies India's progress".

The BJP is seeking to emulate Barack Obama by urging Indians to "vote for change". "Everything matters in an election," one BJP MP tells me. But slogans can be crucial. In 2004, the incumbent BJP – seeking to seize on the new economic progress enjoyed by India's middle class – selected the phrase "India Shining". For hundreds of millions living outside the bubble of progress, the phrase was an insult and the party suffered a surprise defeat.

By contrast, getting it right can generate vital support. In the 1960s, Congress coined the phrase "We are two, ours are two" for a family planning campaign, and in 1971, Indira Gandhi prevailed with the simple slogan "Eliminate poverty". India still suffers from overpopulation and poverty but, after all, these were only things said at elections.

Juicer that turns into a car

Away to Rajasthan for a night in a 14th-century palace, perched on an outcrop among golden farmland. Best of all, however, is the competition to spot the most unlikely vehicle on the nerve-jangling roads. We race past bullock carts, camels, dodge demonic truckers in their multi-coloured rigs and try not to hit entire families perched precariously on motorbikes. The prize goes to a man driving a mechanised sugar-cane juicer set on wheels. Sadly there's no time to stop for an explanation.

I know a man who can

So there I am in Amritsar coming home from Pakistan. The train's full, but there's a flight. The airline office won't accept credit cards or foreign currency. Three ATMs refuse my card. The travel agent knows a man who can get on his scooter, dash across town and hand me a wad of cash. India always has a solution to unnecessary problems.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid

Marina Warner
 

Sorry Britain, but nobody cares about your little election – try being relevant next time

Emanuel Sidea
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power