Special Correspondent

‘Strong leader, decisive government’ is the party slogan arrived at after feedback from surveys

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign is all set to make a pitch for a “strong” versus “weak” leader. However taking the advice of some experts, it will dwell on the positive “strong” aspect of its candidate rather than the negative “weak” description of its opponent.

The BJP strategy seems to be focussed on its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani. The very first “approved” party slogan is: mazboot neta, nirnayak sarkar — strong leader, decisive government.

Explaining how the party arrived at the slogan — after feedback through surveys on other possible slogans — party men made it clear that the slogan intended, directly or indirectly, to compare National Democratic Alliance leader Advani with Manmohan Singh, slated to be the repeat Prime Minister of a United Progressive Alliance government if it were to win the election again.

Party spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said here on Monday that the formal campaign will be launched on March 16 with simultaneous rallies in several places, including Bhubaneswar, where party leader Sushma Swaraj will be the main speaker.

But before the ides of March, the party’s advertisement campaign in the print and electronic media and spots on FM radio will be seen and heard. Two creative ad agencies — Frank Simoes and Utopia — have been selected for the job.

The party’s view is that with a mobile telephone subscription of 35 crore, its SMS campaign would be far more effective than it was in 2004. And besides, this time the party is going at full throttle for an Internet campaign, focussed primarily on Mr. Advani.

“The FM radio now reaches some 280 parliamentary constituencies. We hope it will become a powerful tool for our campaign,” Mr. Singh said, while acknowledging that this was the first Lok Sabha election in which the BJP would be using FM radio.

If the UPA made unemployment a major campaign issue in 2004 and promised the creation of 1 crore jobs every year, the BJP in 2009 would focus on the UPA’s failure on this front.

“Instead of creating 1 crore jobs, the economic downturn has led to a loss of 1.5 crore jobs,” claimed Mr. Singh, adding that “by the time elections are over, another crore jobs would be lost.”

As for the possibility of the Congress adopting ‘Jai ho’ (the Slumdog Millionaire theme song as its slogan), Mr. Singh warned that by the time the votes are counted and results come in, the ‘Jai ho’ (let victory be ours) will change to ‘haar ho’ (we have lost).

A big blow

But, contrary to Mr. Singh’s claims, several party leaders on Monday conceded that the end of the alliance with the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa had come as a big blow.

In a situation where victory or defeat is caused by a narrow margin of seats, the end of the alliance could make a difference of 8-10 seats.

However, Mr. Singh said the party would convert the crisis into an opportunity by ensuring that it grew in Orissa.

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