Is it the end of a ten-year-long association? The Congress has abandoned ‘aam aadmi’ or the common man, a concept that brought the party to power in 2004 and a slogan that it has played in various ways to project its politics and government schemes for the last 10 years.
The party manifesto for 2014 has no mention of aam aadmi. In 2004, the slogan was ‘Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi Ke Saath’ (Congress is with the common man) and in 2009, it was ‘Aam Aadmi Ke Badthe Kadam, Har Kadam Par Bharat Buland’ or the common man marches ahead, every step elevates India.
The slogan on the Congress’ 2014 manifesto is ‘Har Haath Shakti, Har Haath Tarakki’ — empowerment and progress to all.
The idea of ‘aam aadmi’ originated as a counter to the BJP’s 2004 campaign ‘India Shining’ that claimed that there was all-round prosperity in the country. ‘Aam admi ko kya mila’ (what did the common man get), the Congress asked. The idea was that the BJP model of economic growth did not deliver for the common man. The policies and slogans of the Congress ever since have been built around the idea of ‘common man.’
The emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party under Arvind Kejriwal perhaps forced the Congress to abandon the slogan altogether. The party’s own changing emphasis towards creating and sustaining a new middle class could be another reason for giving up the ‘aam aadmi.’