I have been duped, says Gujarat: After Vikas going mad, another campaign hits BJP
The BJP's woes don't seem to be ending in poll-bound Gujarat as far as the social media campaigns against it are concerned. Once known for its expertise in cyber warfare, its army of social media experts stands clearly on the back foot as of now on how to counter the assault by the opponents.
The scathing campaign on 'Vikas gaando thayo che' (Vikas aka development having gone berserk) had embarrassed the BJP during the recent Gujarat visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. The next assault has come under the tag line 'Maara haala chhetri gaya' which roughly translated means – 'I have been duped or taken for a ride'.
Locals interpret the word 'haala' as 'S%#la' in colloquial Gujarati spoken in Saurashtra and North Gujarat.
While people say that these campaigns have resulted from within the masses who are frustrated with the BJP's 'hollow' narratives on development and the nation's progress, there have been reports in the local media suggesting that these have been masterminded by the cyber cell of the Patidars, once the core support base of the BJP that is now hounding the party.
Under the Maara haala chhetri gaya campaign, there are pictures of incomplete works and promises that have not been kept being circulated with catchy slogans juxtaposed on them along with caricatures of Modi and BJP's National President Amit Shah.
The first one doing the rounds shows the Bullet Train and the slogan reads, “Metro Train haju sudhi chalu na kari shakya ane Bullet Train ni lollipop karine tayfa kari gaya.... Maara haala chhetri gaya (They have not been able to start the Metro Train as yet and have made a song and dance of offering the lollipop of a Bullet Train...I have been duped).”
Forget the metro, here's the Bullet Train
The Ahmedabad Metro project is something that was promised by Modi to the people immediately after the Delhi Metro started in late 2002. Time and again the promise was repeated by the BJP and the project remains yet to be completed while several other cities like Bangalore and Kochi have got the services running.
Work has started in parts of Ahmedabad but getting the services running is still a long time away. Observers say that the BJP has kept the Metro rail dream alive with the help of 'friendly media' planting stories on its progress, proposed routes, change in routes etc. Some of the papers have gone to the extent of even publishing the list of proposed fares. Observers say that the prices of properties along the proposed routes have seen appreciation. There have been comments made on lighter vein around the Metro doing the rounds but nothing comes closer to the message now being circulated.
The second message being circulated is of the police action during the Patidar agitation for reservation in government educational institutions and jobs with the caption, “Anamat to aapi na shakya pann goliyon ane lathiyon thi maarta rahya... Maara haala chhetri gaya (They could not give reservation but used bullets and lathis to hit....I have been duped).”
The third picture relates to the unfulfilled promises of providing proper education and jobs to the youth. The caption says, “Yuvanone purtu shikshan ke naukri pann na aapi shakya... Maara haala chhetri gaya (They could not give complete education or jobs to the youth... I have been duped).”
The plight of the farmers figure in the fourth one with the message, “Paak bimo to aapi na shakya ne upar thi nakli biyaran ne nablu khatar padhravi gaya.... Maara haala chhetri gaya (They have been unable to pay agriculture insurance claims and on top of that they gave substandard seeds and spurious fertilizers...I have been duped).”
As these pictures got circulating, there has been a chain reaction from the masses with people coming up with their own captions and tagging it with Maara haala chhetri gaya. Most of them appear to be coming from the agitating Patidars.
There is one on the BJP 'cheating' the Patels by not making a chief minister from the community to succeed Anandiben Patel last year. It says, “They showed us the face of Nitinbhai (Patel) and delivered (Vijay) Rupani...I have been duped.”
There is another one saying, “They first opposed the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and have now implemented the same GST...I have been duped.”
There is yet another on increasing petrol and diesel prices that says, “While opposing a rupee hike in petrol prices (when in opposition), they have hiked the price by Rs 15...I have been duped.
Talking about the Patel community, there is another such message doing the rounds that says, “While talking about peace between Kadva and Leuvas (two main sub-communities amongst Patels) they finished off 12 youths...I have been duped.”
Too much offence, no defence
The BJP and its cyber cell remains in a quandary over countering these assaults in the social media. They are rattled by the messages going viral and people laughing away the tall claims that the party has been making both at the state as well as the national level.
It is learnt that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave an earful to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and other top functionaries of the Gujarat unit of the party earlier this week for 'over reacting' to the Vikas gaando thayo chhe campaign.
Jaitley expressed his annoyance over the consistent over reaction from Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani, state party spokesperson Bharat Pandya, and other leaders. He reportedly advised them to avoid responding to the campaign in the hope that it would die down slowly.
There are reports stating that the BJP is planning to counter this with a social media campaign on the developments that have taken place in Gujarat ever since the BJP came to power under Keshubhai Patel 22 years back.
Earlier, during Amit Shah's 'Yuva Town Hall' programme, the party president had instructed the leaders to design a powerful and positive social media campaign that is based on statistics. But till the BJP launches its 'positive' campaign, Modi's Gujarat Model continues to be the bane of jokes in the social media.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen