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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

In MP’s poll season, an epic battle starring Kamal Nath as Ram and Shivraj Chouhan as Ravan

Morphed videos of political leaders as mythological characters or superheroes have been doing the rounds as the state heads into local body polls

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
Updated: May 23, 2022 12:15:21 pm
Screenshot of the video in which Kamal Nath as 'Ram' pulls out one arrow after another from his quiver and directs them at Shivraj Singh Chouhan as 'Ravan', each of his 10 heads representing farmer suicide, crime against women, among other issues.

It’s war alright. And as epic battles go, this one ends with a victor and a vanquished — both with bobbing heads morphed into a 45-second-long video, purportedly of the Ramayana’s climactic battle scene. The video, featuring Kamal Nath as Ram and Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Ravan, is the latest weapon in the social media arsenal of political parties to be pressed into service as Madhya Pradesh heads into local body elections and with a year left for the Assembly polls.

In the video, Kamal Nath as ‘Ram’ pulls out one arrow after another from his quiver and directs them at Chouhan as ‘Ravan’, each of his 10 heads representing farmer suicide, crime against women, atrocities on tribals, inflation, unemployment, corruption and so on. With the 10 heads felled, ‘Ram’ pulls out his ultimate weapon, the Brahmastra, and directs it at the hapless ‘Ravan’, who meets his end. The video, set to a soaring “nirnay ki ghadi aayi hai (it’s time to decide)” score, ends with a message: ‘Kamal Nath Returns 2023’

While the Congress has denied its hand in the video, it comes at a time when both the BJP and the Congress are heading towards local body polls after some heated politics over reservation for the OBC community. With the Supreme Court recently giving its nod to OBC reservation, the State Election Commission is all set to notify local body elections.

That makes the setting just right for morphed videos such as this one, with politicians featured as mythological warriors — predictably, for a state steeped in Hindutva politics — or gun-toting superstars.

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Last month, a video of Kamal Nath as Rajnikanth had gone viral, with the ‘superhero’ taking on villains in the form of inflation, crime against women and children, and unemployment, among others. The video ends with a declaration that Madhya Pradesh needs to be saved from the “jungle raj” of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Almost six months before the 2018 Assembly elections, dozens of such morphed videos had created a buzz in the state. In 2018, soon after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the BJP’s foot in MP was as strongly planted as that of the vanara king Angad, a video depicting Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Angad and Kamal Nath as Ravan had done the rounds on social media. The video also featured Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was then in the Congress, and Congress leader Jitu Patwari as ‘Ravan’s’ family members. Shivraj Singh Dabi, the BJP’s IT cell head in MP, had shared the video on his social media accounts, prompting the Congress to register a case.

On the latest video, Patwari, the state Congress working president, said, “The party has nothing to do with these videos, but they depict public sentiment. The BJP has failed on every front. To hide its failures on several fronts, including agriculture and employment generation, and distract people, the government has used communal riots and bulldozers. The BJP will get a befitting reply in the upcoming polls.”

While commenting on the videos, BJP state media in-charge Lokendra Parasher said, “Every party, irrespective of their ideology, must practise politics in a respectable manner.”

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