As part of the Lok Sabha election campaign, BJP leadership put forward two slogans which mainstream and social media 'celebrated' to their full. 'Modi hai tho mumkin hai' (Modi makes it possible) and 'main bhi chowkidar' (I am a watchman too) are the slogans that have sparked crticisms and ridicule well before the elections.
The two have by now been subjected to a no small barrage of trolls too. Any one who weighs dispassionately the last five years of Modi's government, can only view it with such a response. The first of the slogans gives a clear indication that Modi is again going to be the highlighted election plank for the party although even some of its erstwhile insiders have evaluated him as total failure.
True, who the prime ministerial candidate of a party is, can be treated as that party's internal matter. But the term 'chowkidar' cannot be dismissed that easily. For, beyond the mere (and fake) claims, there are many political traps hidden in such statements. It may be for that reason that the Opposition parties including Congress, and activists came out against Modi's use of 'chowkidar' right from its launch. Even earlier, Modi had claimed on several occasions that he is the watchman of this country. That claim was made with the full realization that it was a catch phrase capable of captivating a party and its rank and file with frenzied nationalism as their hallmark. Thus he was coronating himself as the head of the government with the epithet 'watchman'.
It is little surprising that a ruler, who many a time has displayed distinct signs of fascism, has done this. With the prime minister becoming 'watchman' he is elevating himself from the role of people's representative to the aura of military. Within hours of the military strike in Balakot, Modi said during a speech in Rajasthan 'the country is safe in these hands', which again carried a 'watchman' tone, i.e. somebody beyond a prime minister. After all nobody will easily raise questions against or criticise, those who stand guard for the country. If done, that will be deemed as a crime of sedition too.
In another sense, through the political slogan of 'chowkidar' - woven around the cloak of ultra-nationalism - Modi was trying to declare by himself that he is beyond reproach, thereby making an attempt for one-man rule. And that is why no one had come for ward at the beginning, unlike now, to question that usage. But in parliament, during the debate on Rafale defence purchase scam, Rahul Gandhi challenged that cover and burst out saying 'chowkidar chor hai" (the watchman is a thief). That was when the catch phrase 'chowkidar' carried symbols of Modi-bashing. This strike by Rahul constitutes a weighty political statement beyond a mere Twitter troll.
Probably because Modi's anointing himself as 'chowkidar' had its backlash, that slogan has now been modified to 'main bhi chowkidar' (I am a watchman too). In this, not only Modi but all are security guards; meaning everybody has a role in national security. It may be to drill home this message that all the BJP leaders, Modi included, added 'chowkidar' as prefix to their names in their Twitter accounts. BJP launched this campaign accompanied by a three and a half minute video.
This musical video begins with a backdrop of a Modi portrait, saying 'your watchman is standing firm and serving the nation'. Although all are guards, the implication is that the leader is Modi himself. Not only that, the new chowkidars have the additional task of fighting corruption. If the tweet of 'chowkidar narendra Modi' can be believed, all who fight the social evil of corruption are security guards. But with this very phrase, this campaign is starting to be a backlash against BJP.
Many have already raised charges against the government highlighting the Rafale scam and the Nirav Modi incident. The response to the campaign by Congress leader P Chidambaram was ' I am a watchman too, because the watchman I had appointed is missing'. If the real watchmen are those who battle against corruption, the question arises how so many RTI activists were murdered during Modi's rule.
Issues like mob killings, the setbacks suffered in economic reforms, farmer sufferings, and unemployment also raised their ugly head. The voices of those like the mother of Najib of Jawaharlal Nehru University who went missing, also started being widely heard in connection with the campaign. In short, all that Modi and his Hindutva party wanted to consign to oblivion, came to open view thanks to the campaign.
All this means that the slogan 'main bhi chowkidar' turned out to be a weapon thrown for the anti-Modi alliance in the electoral battlefield. It is a different matter how much of this will translate into votes. Even otherwise, what can be more amusing than depicting one like Modi, the corporates' own darling, as an anti-corruption soldier and to steer a campaign on that basis! Although six years have passed since parliament enacted a law, it took an ultimatum from Supreme Court for Modi government to appoint a Lokpal! That itself would speak for the vigour and sincerity of that 'fight'.