A startled Narendra Modi woke up on Friday morning to see newspapers splashed with a new Congress ad campaign pitching Rahul Gandhi ahead of the general elections with a tagline used by him sometime back.
The ad featured the Congress vice-president with the phrase ‘Main Nahin, Hum’ (Not I, we) in bold, the very words used by Modi during his ‘better administration’ drive in Gujarat three years ago.
As red-faced Congress was left to explain the goof-up, a photograph of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate addressing a meeting in Mehsana in February 2011 with the phrase emblazoned behind him, identical down to the comma, surfaced soon after.
Both images became viral online.
Dentsu India, the agency that created the ad, refused to comment, on account of a confidentiality clause in its contract with the Congress party.
It had won a Rs500-crore contract, along with JWT, for this campaign, warding off stiff bids from leading agencies such as Rediffusion Y&R, Crayon, Percept/H, Grey Group, and Madison World.
The Congress had more reasons for being embarrassed. This was a solo ad projecting Rahul Gandhi, unaccompanied by his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
It was supposed to be part of a mega campaign to position him as a people's politician in the face of Narendra Modi's "tea vendor vs shehzada (prince)" chant and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi appeal, party sources said.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, "They (the Congress) are copycats. They are in desperation and are ready to go to any extent."
But, by Friday evening, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari was ready with a stout defence: "The discourse over the past six months evidences that the BJP's prime ministerial aspirant has an ostensible proprietary right over the words 'I, me, myself', while the partnership that has transformed the country over the past 10 years provides the Congress and the UPA a legitimate claim over the word 'we'."
Congress spokesperson Shoba Oza said, "The slogan is not anyone’s parental property.”
Read: NDA could cross 220 seats, if LS polls were held now: election tracker
Twitter reactions to the ad went thus:
Looks like Cong has done a scam in Rahul Gandhi's makeover mission also. 495 of d 500 crore went to Congi leaders' pockets. #MainNahinHum— Shantanu Bhate (@bhatesc) January 24, 2014