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Ahead of Gujarat Polls: ‘No shouting, convey with clarity’, BJP to groom leaders for TV debates

The party has roped in Meghna Khatri, an Ahmedabad-based image consultant, who will address a gathering in Vadodara and put forth the points about the overall conduct of the leaders on TV debates.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
September 26, 2021 12:51:42 am
Chief spokesperson of Gujarat BJP Yamal Vyas said that the party is keen on inculcating the basic values of conducting oneself on TV. (File)

In the run-up to the 2022 Gujarat Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to train party spokes-persons for television news debates in order to ensure that the leaders “convey the message of the party with clarity” rather than indulging in “mindless shouting” with opponents.

The first session, to be held in Vadodara for spokespersons of Central Gujarat on Sunday, will also see an image consultant enlisting important dos and don’ts for the leaders appearing on TV in terms of the colours of the outfits they wear to the hand gestures they make when debating.

The day-long event to be held at the Management Faculty Auditorium of MS University will see participation from close to 120 members of the BJP’s media cell from eight districts of Central Gujarat, who appear as spokespersons on television news debates.

As per the schedule of the programme released by the party, the session will begin with the leaders listening to Mann Ki Baat by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Among the various topics that the party leaders will address — right from the role of the media team in putting forth the work done by the party-led governments to ways to “counter AAP and Congress” — is also a session by a professional image consultant, who will elaborate the “art of dressing up and body language on TV screens”.

The party has roped in Meghna Khatri, an Ahmedabad-based image consultant, who will address the gathering in Vadodara and put forth the points about the overall conduct of the leaders on TV debates.

Khatri said, “It is my first such exercise with a political party and the aim is to convey to them that the change is not just about their professional conduct but an overall personality change that they should be aiming for. I have been specifically asked to address how they should dress up in front of a green screen, the posture they should have, the gestures they should make and the overall behaviour during a debate, especially when someone is in disagreement with what they say.”

Going through the video clips of TV debates that are now synonymous with high-pitched arguments, Khatri has picked out some specific gestures that “appear rude” when made by political leaders.

“The most common gesture is that they begin pointing the finger at the person who disagrees with them… On TV, it appears rude because the viewer cannot see the panelist for whom it is intended. It appears as if the leader is pointing fingers at viewers,” Khatri says.

Similarly, in the context of being “presentable”, Khatri will enlist some handy pointers to the leaders about the colours, fabrics and prints they should pick for their outfits when they appear on TV.

“The prints, fabrics and colours matter a lot, especially on TV, which uses a green screen (to add background effects)… We go by an international style scale, which lists colours that make a difference. There are certain colours that create a halo image in the minds of the viewers. For instance, eatery brands go for reds and yellows as these colours ignite digestion and blue is considered to be the colour for trust in the first impression…”

Khatri says that political leaders also choose colours for personal branding. “Each leader has own agenda or personality. There is a reason why Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil always wears white, which is his personal image branding while PM Modi wears various colours based on the occasion.”

Chief spokesperson of Gujarat BJP Yamal Vyas, who will also address the gathering, said that the party is keen on inculcating the basic values of conducting oneself on TV.

Vyas told The Sunday Express, “Often, TV debates end up being a shouting match between the panelists and the actual message is lost… The viewers spend their precious time to watch a debate and want to hear something with a context. The BJP is a party that has done so much work in governance and we want to convey it with clarity to the people… But once the panelists get into shouting at one another, nothing is conveyed.”

“We will have similar training for all zones in the state and it will continue until the elections, which is when the TV news debates become very regular with a live audience too,” he added.

Central Gujarat Spokesperson of BJP Satyen Kulabkar said that the session will also see top party leaders emphasising on being “prepared with data and facts” while appearing on debates.

Kulabkar said, “Our leaders Yagnesh Dave and Mahesh Kaswala will hand out some points to remember about the role of the media team and the achievements of the BJP governments, respectively, which will be handy while countering allegations. Bharat Dangar will take up the topic of how to counter AAP and Congress in TV debates, specifically.”

The event will also see a session by retired IAS officer Bhagyesh Jha on the “art of communication” and a session on the economic policies of the party by the convenor of the Gujarat BJP’s economic cell Prerak Shah.

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