Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for India’s top post is getting some very useful tips from colleagues on how best to enhance his appeal. And they range from what not to say to what not to do.
<b1>For instance, colleagues told him, he must not shift into reverse gear during election rallies, a predisposition that starts mostly with four well-recognisable words: “mujhe smaran aata hai … (loosely, I remember)”.
“Once, he asked me what I thought of his speech. I told him he would do well without flashbacks. I thought I dropped a bombshell but he smiled,” said a young BJP worker who handles media work.
Party colleagues believe Advani’s flashbacks to the 50s and 60s are lost on youngsters, they find it alienating. He has paid heed. There are fewer bouts of nostalgia in his speeches now.
As BJP’s Arun Jaitely put it, “Advani is a conventional BJP-RSS leader but who has succeeded making his mark with modern ideas and idioms. Yet, you can tell him he is wrong and he will listen to you.”
The second tip to the Prime Minister-in waiting was on his body language. Colleagues found his habit of wringing his hands when in thought very disconcerting.
“Now, you can see that he does not do that any more and he gestures with open hands,” said a BJP functionary.
And the third tip was to write his own speeches, after as many consultations as he wanted. The party doesn’t want him to stumble upon another controversy like the one following his comments on Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
The speech praising Jinnah was given by Advani while on a tour of Pakistan and brought him unforeseen criticism from within the saffron formation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP.
The whole controversy was later blamed on a speech-writer.
"Advani writes his own speeches now. Blogs on his website are also his own," said a senior party leader.
Advani makes it a point to address issues the youths are worried about – quality education, health, water and employment.
He is working on a list of issues and what his government would do in the first 100 days if the NDA comes to power.
And for playing ball, Advani gets these Advani-centric slogans which the party hopes will bring it back into power: “Majboot Pradhan Mantri versus Majboor Pradhan Mantri” (Strong PM versus helpless PM) and “Karmayogi vs Vanshbhogi”.
He said, “Both Advani and the BJP are for an aspirational India that we want to relate and talk about. We want to break the Congress’ optical illusion.”
He said, “the Congress is showing an old man as PM — when he was just being the night watchman — and a young face who is yet to make a meaningful political intervention yet.”