Updated: January 21, 2022 1:33:34 am
Neither Sri Lankan singer Yohani nor Chhattisgarh child artiste Sahdev Dirdo will vote in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. But the BJP government in the state is hoping they can influence other people to vote in its favour, by setting its campaign songs to the tune of Manike Mage Hithe and Bachpan Ka Pyar, the two viral hits of last year.
With the Election Commission banning physical rallies in poll-bound states because of the Covid-19 threat, parties are trying other modes of outreach to woo voters. And in Uttar Pradesh, campaign songs are a full-blown war, with BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) leading the way so far.
Both the parties have come up with several songs in the various dialects spoken in UP, such as Khadi Boli, Awadhi, and Bhojpuri. The Congress and the BSP too have songs around their campaigns, but these two parties are not as prolific as the incumbent and its main challenger.
While the songs showcase the planks the parties are fighting the polls on, they also offer interesting peeks into the intra-party dynamics at play, and into issues no party is very vocal about.
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The BJP videos reiterate that this is a ‘Modi-Yogi’ government, while in SP songs, it is party chief Akhilesh Yadav all the way. Visibly Muslim faces are entirely missing from the BJP’s videos, while in Congress and SP songs, they make blink-and-miss appearances.
Here are some of the songs you should not miss:
The song pinned to the BJP’s YouTube homepage as of January 20 is ‘Bhool nahin jana re’, based on Dirdo’s ‘Bachpan ka pyar’. The song exhorts voters to pay attention, to not forget, that they have to vote for BJP in this election. While listing out the ‘achievements’ of the present regime – AIIMS, MSP for farmers, roads, electrification, free ration, free medical treatment, Kushinagar airport, defence corridor, etc. – it also urges voters to not forget the ‘ghor brashtachar (rampant corruption)’ and ‘mafia rule’ of the previous governments.
The song based on Manike Mage Hithe, ‘Sab ki man ki ye bhasha, yahan du du hai asha (everyone’s minds say, there are two hopes here)’ is less defensive, and seeks to present the many wonders the BJP government has supposedly performed for UP.
The songs emphasise on the leadership of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (Modi Yogi ki jodi ne kiya poora jo thana; Modi Yogi ki fir hawayein). Other leaders like Deputy CM Swami Parsad Maurya, UP party unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president JP Nadda, also make frequent appearances in the videos.
The in-house talent in BJP – Bhojpuri singers Dinesh Lal Nirahua, Ravi Kishan and Manoj Tiwari – have contributed a song each.
Tiwari’s song, Bhagwa Rang Chadhne Laga Hai (the saffron colour is spreading), focuses mainly on Kashi, Mathura, and Ayodhya, the major Hindu religious places, and all BJP is doing for them.
Nirahua, clad in saffron with paste-lined forehead, aggressively declares ‘aayenge tou Yogi hi (Yogi is sure to return)’.
Kishan, in his ‘UP mein sab ba (Uttar Pradesh has everything)’ makes it a point to introduce himself as Ravi Kishan Shukl – the BJP is wooing Brahmins to counter the perception that it runs a Rajput-friendly government under Yogi. Kishan’s is the only song among these that mentions Covid, saying BJP ‘defeated corona’.
Kishan’s song has provoked a response from Bhojpuri artiste Neha Singh Rathore, who has come out with ‘UP mein ka ba (what does UP have)’. These are based on the popular song ‘Mumbai mein ka ba’, which during the Bihar polls saw another spinoff, ‘Bihar mein ka ba’.
A local singer responds to BJP MP Ravi Kishan’s ‘UP main ka ba’ ode to Yogi…. pic.twitter.com/RhwNX3xKKC
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) January 16, 2022
The song pinned on the Samajwadi Party’s YouTube page is ‘Janta pukarti hai, Akhilesh aayiye (the people are calling, Akhiesh do come)’. Written by Bilal Saharanpuri and sung by Altamash Faridi (the video gives them credit), the song is very much like a Bollywood romance number, complete with a lilting tune.
Rather than attacking the BJP, it focuses on all things bright and beautiful – khushhaali (happiness) and vikas (progress), Akhilesh being the inheritor of JP and Lohia’s legacy, the Lucknow metro, Agra highway, Gomti riverfront. It tells Akhilesh shaam-e-Awadh udas hain, rangeen banayiye (restore their colour to the legendary evenings of Awadh) with video of twirling Sufis, and talks of behno ha hausla (courage of sisters) and laptops to students.
Another song, ‘hunkaara (the battlecry)’ is more martial, with references to inflation, the oxygen shortage during Covid, the “laash (corpses) and vinaash (destruction)” allegedly brought by BJP. But the overall picture these and the other songs project is of an affable-capable Akhilesh Yadav, who alone can bring peace and prosperity to UP.
The lyrics talk of no vivaad (conflict), only Samajwaad, with one song even saying, ‘ek baar mujhe fir dil de do, sabka pyara Akhilesh hun main (trust me with your heart again, I am your own dear Akhilesh)’. The visuals in the songs compliment the message – of a beatific Akhilesh smiling, waving, marching, inaugurating projects, and of course, cycling. No other leader gets any camera time, with only wife Dimple Yadav making a few – very brief – appearances.
The most combative, very popular song is ‘Khadera Hoibe (there will be a chase-out), which takes the BJP head-on. It is based on the slogan popularised by the TMC during Bengal elections, ‘khela hobe’, or game on.
The song released on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s official YouTube page focuses on the Congress’s poll cry, ‘Ladki hun lad sakti hun (I am a girl, I can fight)’. The song begins with the hymn Aigiri Nandini, dedicated to Goddess Durga. The only two politicians visible in the video are Priyanka right at the beginning, and Indira Gandhi during the lines that say a woman can run a household as well as the country. Hindu rituals of worship run throughout the song.
Another song, shared on an unofficial Congress YouTube page, goes ‘Behen Priyanka aayengi, BJP tou jayegi (Sister Priyanka will come, BJP will have to go)’, which makes a mention of state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, as ‘sarathi’ or charioteer.
The BSP has been subdued in the poll run-up so far. However, a campaign song, posted on a YouTube page called ‘Bhim Music’, declares ‘Aa rahin hain sabki Behenji (everyone’s sister is coming back)’. The song claims UP has had enough of gundagardi (bullying) and durachar (foul conduct), and that no Sengar (reference to BJP leader Kuldip Singh Sengar, accused in a rape case) will go unpunished under BSP. Interestingly, during a line about communalism, the visuals show both PM Modi and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, whose AIMIM is in the UP poll fray.
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