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Lok Sabha polls 2019: Congress taps 1.5 million party workers to suggest key election slogans

While several proposed slogans start with “aap ke saath (with you)”, a takeaway from the 2004 slogan, workers have also suggested slogans with phrases such as “yug ki awaz”, “new vision” and “new era.

lok sabha elections Updated: Feb 23, 2019 08:37 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Congress slogan,Congress campaigning
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary (incharge of east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during a roadshow from the Chaudhary Charan Singh airport to the UPCC headquarters in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on February 11.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

The Indian National Congress has decided to crowdsource its slogan for the summer’s parliamentary elections to 1.5 million party workers in a departure from the usual way in which these tag lines are usually created. The exercise has been on since February 20, they added, asking not to be named.

The exercise, which party functionaries said is part of the Congress’s new approach of keeping its “ground force” engaged, is a change from the past when a handful of senior Congress strategists and some admen would go into a huddle and frame phrases — “Congress ka haath, aam admi ke saath” in 2004 or “Aam admi ke badhte kadam” in 2009.

It is another matter that the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party on the scene around five years ago have put paid to Congress slogans ever featuring the common man (aam aadmi) again.

Slogans are an integral part of poll campaigns as they offer a key theme for parties. From the Congress’s “Garibi Hatao” (remove poverty) in 1971 to the BJP’s “Acche din aane wale hain” in 2014, different parties have tried to come up with innovative and catchy lines to attract voters.

This time, even as the Congress’s publicity committee led by Pawan Khera met about a dozen advertising agencies, the party decided to ask its grassroots level supporters about their preferred slogan. Party functionaries said that 1.5 million workers were selected across 393 Lok Sabha constituencies and 246,000 booths to seek feedback.

The Congress’s data analytics department, headed by Praveen Chakravarty, has set up an Artificial Intelligence-based software to sort the responses based along broad themes. “The results are very interesting. The top three themes are economy, jobs and farmers’ issues. The results also reflect the ground realities and the problems faced by people,” said Chakravarty.

The data team has already shortlisted 6,800 responses and the functionaries added that 10-12 of the best and most representative slogans would be discussed at a meeting of the publicity panel to finalise the Congress party’s slogan for the 2019 polls.

While several proposed slogans start with “aap ke saath (with you)”, a takeaway from the 2004 slogan, workers have also suggested slogans with phrases such as “yug ki awaz”, “new vision” and “new era”.

There is no certainty that one of these slogans will be used in its totality, the functionaries clarified, but they will, at the least form the basis of slogans that will be hammered out by ad agencies which will help the party’s publicity panel finalise a slogan which can capture the imagination of the electorate.

“The exercise also meant increasing connections between workers and the headquarters. In Tamil Nadu, where the Congress doesn’t have a strong presence, 55,000 people have responded,” said Chakravarty.

To start with, a short message was sent to each of these 1.5 million workers through Whatsapp, and in prominent regional languages depending on the state where the workers are located.

“What should be the slogan of the Congress for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls? Kindly write a slogan in 6-7 words and send it ..... The best slogans will be used by the publicity committee in the election,” the message added.

Apart from the main, pan-India slogan, the party will also use different slogans from its workers at the state-level, the functionaries said.

First Published: Feb 23, 2019 07:14 IST