It is election season in India! It is the time when political parties woo voters with big promises, come up with amazing campaigns and what not? But what catches everyone’s attention are the slogans. Today during elections PR firms are collaborated and crores of rupees are spent. After all, elections mean serious business, isn’t it? We cannot ignore the fact that many parties have won elections because of the catchy slogans and some of them have lost after the catchphrases failed to have an impact on the electorate. There are times when these political catchphrases and slogans haunt the makers. No matter how eye-catchy or witty these slogans are there is always a room for political opponents and satirists.
To start with, let’s have a look at Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 2014 General Election’s slogan that was used to promote their Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi. The umbrella slogan was ‘Abki Baar, Modi Sarkaar!’. Promising ‘achche din’, this slogan caught everyone’s attention and the rest is history.
Here’s a look at some of the political slogans in India that changed the fortunes of political parties, some for the good and while some the other way around.
- Vote for calf and cow, forget all others now
You will be surprised to know that even the Congress made attempts to woo voters by the ‘cow politics’. It is said that after Indira Gandhi had a split in Congress she made her own faction. The original symbol of Congress party was two oxen, which Indira changed to a cow and calf. Soon the symbol was mocked by the people and opposition by saying the cow and calf represent Indira and Sanjay Gandhi. And at last with a lot of mocking, the symbol was changed again.
- Jab tak rahega samose mein aloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu
This was one of the entertaining phrases of all the time. The phrase projects that Lalu Prasad is and will be the original leader of Bihar.
- Jan Sangh ko vote do, bidi peena chhod do;
Bidi mein tambaku hai, Congress-wala daaku hai (1967)
The phrase means ‘Vote for Jan Sangh, stop smoking and drinking; Bidi has tobacco, Congressmen are dacoits’. In the 1967 elections, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh by using the slogan asked voters to quit tobacco and Congress. Congress had lost two of the respected leaders – Jawaharlal Nehru (1964) and Lal Bahadur Shastri (1966), and soon the party lost its importance in the eyes of the general public. Jan Sangh Party was in the opposition and they grabbed the chance during the 1967 elections to highlight the negative side of the Congress.
- Garibi Hatao, Indira Lao, Desh Bachao (1971)
Meaning ‘Bring Indira, Remove Poverty, Save the Nation’. The General Elections in 1971 was won by the Congress because of Indira Gandhi. The slogan was revived every now and then, especially during the elections. It was also used a lot of times by Rajiv Gandhi, Sitaram Kesri, and Rahul Gandhi.
- Indira Hatao, Desh Bachao (1977)
‘Remove India, Save the Nation’ is the literal translation of the slogan. The phrase was coined post-emergency by Jayprakash Narayan. Major opposition parties supported the slogan with the common intention to bid Congress ‘bye-bye’ in the 1977 parliamentary elections.
- Ek Sherni, Sau Langur, Chikmagalur bhai Chikmagalur (1978)
The literal meaning of the phrase is ‘One tigress and a hundred monkeys, Chikmagalur it is!’ The phrase was coined by Congressman Shrikant Verma during the 1978 by-election mocking the opposition. After the Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi in 1977 elections she fought back with the aggressive contempt and challenged them to arrest her, but no one had the courage to do so. Not even the ones who were jailed during the Emergency. In a surprise twist, Indira contested the 1978 election in the Chikamagalur and won it. Thus came out the slogan ‘Ek sherni sau langoor, Chikmagalur bhai Chikmagalur’.
- Mile Mulayam-Kanshiram, hawa ho gaye Jai Shree Ram (1993)
The slogan was formed after the Ayodhya structure was demolished and Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kashiram came together to form a government. Kashiram was the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and during the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, he accepted support from Mulayam Singh Yadav. Their second alliance was in 1993 Assembly Elections where Kashiram projected Mulayam as the Chief Ministerial candidate.
- Bari Bari Sabki Bari, Abki Bari Atal Bihari (1996)
The slogan means ‘Everybody will get their chance turn by turn. But now this is the time for Atal Bihari.’ It was coined by the BJP during the 1996 general elections to project Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the next Prime Ministerial. Ultimately, the Congress lost the elections and Vajpayee was appointed as the PM for 13 days.
- Congress ka Haath, Aam Aadmi ke Saath (2004)
In 2004, to make a comeback, the Congress party targeted India’s common man. The ‘aam aadmi’ in the slogan represents India’s growing middle-class population.
- UP mein hai dum, kyunki jurm hai yahan kam (2007)
The slogan was aired by news channel during the 2007 Assembly Polls in Uttar Pradesh, where Amitabh Bachchan chants ‘UP mein hai dum, kyunki jurm hai yahan kam’. The phrase was supported by Samajwadi Party suggesting that the crime rate in the Uttar Pradesh was low. Big B was soon served a notice by the Uttar Pradesh Information Commission seeking an explanation. The phrase was also targeted by Congress, who replied to Mr Bachchan with the slogan ‘UP mein tha dam, lekin kahan pahuch gaye hum’.
- Sonia nahi yeh aandhi hai, doosri Indira Gandhi hai (2009)
The slogan was coined by the Congress party in 2009 to highlight the similarities between Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Talking about the similarities we pointed out few of them like both pushed their sons real hard, both pushed the ‘Emergency’ – Indira in 1975 and Sonia by E-mergency (by wishing to amend the Section 66A of the Indian Penal Code). Both crashed the party to its lowest ever performance with Indira with 153 seats in 1977 and Sonia with 114 seats in 1999.
- Poori roti khayenge, 100 din kaam karenge, dawai lenge aur Congress ko jitayenge. (2013)
Meaning ‘Will eat full meals, work for 100 days, receive free medicines and vote for Congress’. The slogan was a replacement to Congress’ earlier slogan that said ‘Aadhi roti khayenge Congress ko jitayenge’, meaning ‘We will eat half a meal and vote for the Congress. It highlights the passage of food and land security bills in parliament under the Congress-led government.
- Vikas Ki Chabhi, Dimple Bhabhi (2017)
It was one of the catchy yet weird slogans and was popular among the young UPites during the Assembly elections. Although the slogan was about Dimple Bhabhi, election speeches were all about ‘Akhilesh Bhaiya’. The elections also saw chants of ‘ye jawani hai kurban, Akhilesh bhaiyya tere naam’ and ‘no confusion no mistake, sirf Akhilesh sirf Akhilesh’.