The politics over the caste census is gaining steam as the Congress Working Committee on Monday said its Chief Ministers are considering and actioning it. But to connect with people, slogans hold an important place in Indian politics.
Slogans had been used in the pre-independence era to unite people against the British and to convince voters and party cadres post Independence.
Congress is talking loudly about the caste census by copying Dalit leader and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Kanshi Ram’s slogan– Jiski Jitni Sankhya Bhari–Uski Utni Bhagidari. Kanshi Ram who spearheaded a Dalit movement and gave it a political voice — BSP– was known for his slogans. In 80s, Vote hamara, Raaj Tumhara nhin chalega and Jiski Jitni Sankhya Bhari–Uski Utni Bhagidari.
Uniting Dalits, Kanshi Ram had given a slogan– Tilak, Taraju aur Talwar, maaro inko Joote Chaar. Similar slogan, “Thakur Babhan (brahman) Baniya Chor, Baaki sab hain DS4,” was also hurled to unite the Dalits and backwards. Kanshiram also founded Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS-4) escluding Thakur, Baniya and Brahmin.
However, later his Protege Mayawati adopted a social engineering wooing non-dalit voters. BSP gave a slogan — Hathi Nahi ganesh hai, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh hai.
Highlighting the social engineering politics, Mayavati’s other slogan was, “Brahman Shankh Bajayega, Hatho Badhta Jayega”. Congress party has also used several slogans which have become a part of Indian political history.
In 1952, during the first parliament elections of independent India, Congress gave a slogan, “Kharo Rupaiiya Chandi ko, Raaj Mahatma Gandhi ko.” However, Gandhi was killed in 1948 but the first election was fought in his name by Congress. Indira Gandhi’s regime was full of political events. “Indira Lao garibi hatao” is one of the famous slogan.
However, later opposition gave slogan– “IndiraHatao, Desh Bachao”, “Dekho Indira Ka yeh khel, Kha gyi ration, pee gyi tel” to counter this Garibi Hatao narrative. During the Emergency, another slogan made it to every ear– Nasbandi Ke teen Dalal- Indira, Sanjay, Bansi Lal.
The emergency was full of agitations. Another trending slogan was, “Zameen gayi Chakbandi Mein, Makaan Gya Hadbandi Min, Dwar Khadi Aurat Chillaye, Mard gya Nasbandi Mein.”
Later, when Indira Gandhi contested the Loksabha elections from Karnataka’s Chikmangloor, the Congress gave a slogan, “Ek Sherni, Sau langoor, Chikmangloor- Chikmangloor.” Devkant Barua’s “Indira Is India and India is Indira” slogan also rose to popularity.
“Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega Indira Tera Naam Rahega” Congress workers chanted this slogan when she was killed and Rajiv Gandhi emerged as party’s leader. Rajiv’s political journey begins with a slogan, “Uthe Karodon Haath hai, Rajiv Ji ke Sath hain”. However, he faced opposition during his first tenure besides allegations of kickbacks in a defence deal.
VP Singh, who became the next prime minister, gave a slogan targetting Rajiv Gandhi, “Ye Gaalon ki Jo Lali hai, ye topon ki Dalali hai”. “With the slogan of Raja Nahin Fakeer hai, Desh ki Takdeer Hai,” VP Singh became the prime minister with the support of BJP and other parties and to survive implemented the Mandal Commission report giving reservations of OBCs.
This decision witnessed a lot of criticism agitation and VP Singh- a royal scion of the Manda estate became a villain for the General category. The slogan “Goli Maro Mandal Ko, Is Raja ko Kamandal Do” was popular during the agitation in the early 90s.
Implementation of Mandal commission benfitted regional leaders off backward classes including Mulayam Singh in Uttar Pradesh, Lalu Yadav in Bihar. Mulayam Singh joined hand with Kanshiram to over power BJP led by Kalyan Singh —a known OBC face who was also known as Hindu Hriday Samrat. “Mile Mulayam Kanshi Ram—Hawa Mein Ud Gye Jai Siya Raam,” this was slogan used against BJP at that time. The safron party countered it with, “Mit Gye Mulayam kanshi Ram- Sada rahenge Prabhu Shi Ram.” For Lalu Yadav, his supporters say, “Jab Tak Rahega samosa Mein aalo, Tab Tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu.”
The 90s began with pro-ram mandir slogans. “Sabko Dekha Bari Bari, Abki baari Atal Bihar,” also echoed in the Political circles. Congress that is demanding a caste census today, contested 1996 election on ,” Na Jaat Par, na Paat Par, Muhar Lagegi Hath Par.”
Post 2000, India Shining, Acche Din Ayenge, Abki Bar Modi Sarkar and so many other slogans have been used by the political parties. Over the yeas, poll management streteies have been changed with the tech intervention. One thing that stays is the slogan.
Saurabh Chauhan, an independent journalist, has 10 years of experience in Print and Digital Media. He has written on a variety of issues including women’s rights, environment, crime, governance, finance and politics at Shimla, Chandigarh and Lucknow. Saurabh is currently based in Lucknow.