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Politics of Slogans

Updated on April 21, 2014

apne shetra mein jao, motivation do :D

Which party has got the best political slogans?

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A combination of few words which give goosebumps when chanted by masses ,which take control of the senses albeit for a while and which passively act to steer the mind to vote. Yes they are the catchy phrases which have been there since time immemorial and the way they get on the tongue, they are hard to let go.

If Indian elections were to be a sumptous dish being prepared by a qualified chef, then these election slogans are certainly the spices which give the flavor and taste to the grub. They are instantenous, they are rhyming, they are catchy and most importantly they convey to the voters in few syllables what even the lengthy speeches can't. But make no mistake in undermining the huge efforts that go into framing these lines. A whole line of paid professionals is working in this sector , who need to catch the nerve of the public, the mood of the junta and the turn of the tide of time before churning their grey cells to make even a few super duper hit ones

Here is this blog dedicated to the evolution of the long list of catchy, tangy, witty, twisty slogans which have witnessed the rise and fall of many a leaders. Passively and actively they have shaped the politics of this country both at the grass roots and the top echelons.

So the story starts just after the independence when the largest democratic exercise took place in the second largest country of the world in 1951-52. It was time for the countrymen to move from nationalist slogans of 'vande mataram' 'angrezon bharat choro' 'Inqilab Zindabad' to ones which had affinity to political parties. Though it was a tough transition both for people and leaders themselves… it took over 2 centuries of oppressive British rule to ignite the feelings of patriotism and the jingoistic flames were not easy to extinguish. Eventually Indian National Congrerss emerged with thumping victory riding the patriotic sentiments of the people. In short, nothing new and catchy was heard only except when surprises sprang up in the election results. For instance when the veteran leader Ambedkar lost to a milkman.(all thanks to brute caste politics!) everyone chanted

Kuthe to Ghatnakar Ambedkar,

Aani Kuthe ha Lonivikya Kajrolkar?

Which in marathi meant:

Where i s the (great ) constitution-maker Ambedkar

And where the (obscure) butter-seller Kajrolkar?

You can blame it on the monopoly of Congress for the lack of masaledar-slogans but of whatever opposition we had the prominent ones were the communists and their campaign lines were :

"yeh azaadi jhooti hai" ( This Independence is a farce)

"Laal Qila par laal nissan, maang raha hai Hindustan" (India wants a red flag on the red fort) . Red being the color of communists here.

Ifact with almost one party rule till Nehru's era ended, there was nothing very savory in elections. Competition breeds quality as per Adam Smith and so were we to witness quality in terms of slogans when other players like Janta Party jumped into the fray. And for the very first time in the history of independent India ,Congress lost the elections, and from here the story gets interesting.

Jay Prakash Narayan popularly called as JP by the masses was the leader of total revolution during Emergency period and he vehemently campaigned against the totalitarianism of Indira Gandhi. Here We'll see that for the first time in the indian political history slogans were aimed against a person than against a party.

"Indira hatao, desh bachao"

"Daro mat, main abhi zinda hoon’ (don’t be afraid, I am still alive) -Jai Prakash

"Sampurna Kranti Ka Naara Hai, Bharat Desh Hamara Hai'. (we need a total revolution in this country )

"Jahan bhi dekhen haldhar chhap, wahin lagayen mohar aap" (plough (hal) used to be the symbol of Janata Party then.)

Yeh Dekho Indira Ka Khel, Kha Gayi Shakkar, Pee Gayi Tel" This was to refer to the chronic corruption in public distribution system (Sugar,Kerosene)

"Jan Sangh ko Vote do

Beedi Peena Chod do

Beedi mein tambaaku hai

Congresswale daku hain"

To this , Devraj Urs coined :

Ek sherni, sau langoor , Chikmangloor , Chikmangloor .” (one lioness, hundred monkeys – Chikmangloor, Chikmangloor). - for Indira

Gandhi’s by-election in 1978. Indira Gandhi then used to fight from Chikmangloor (Karnataka) constituency.

‘Is Deepak mein tel nahin, sarkar chalana khel nahin’ (this lamp has no oil, governance is no child’s play). The election symbol of Jan Sangh was ‘deepak’ (earthen lamp).

'Indira is India, India is Indira' ( Congress president during emergency)

Came the elections of '84 after the Assassination of Indira Gandhi. Sympathy wave as they call it was with Rajiv Gandhi, And congress won by the largest margin ever.

'Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Indira tera naam rahega.” - bache bache ki jubaan par yahi tha.

But as they say public memory is shorter than that of Aamir Khan in Ghazni, people cried revenge when there were allegation of corruption in Bofors scandal on the then PM Rajiv Gandhi. And so was coined a slogan which became one of the most catchy ones.

"gali gali mai shor hai, rajiv gandhi chor hai" and

"sena khoon bahaati hai, sarkar commission khaati hai"

2 governments changed then on. Mandal commission report got notified in gazette , BJP started spitting communal venom. Came december 6 , 1992 and India had the blackest day of secularism, Babri Masjid Got demolished. Sad or happy, but we Indians had slogans for every moment.

"Tel lagado dabur ka, naam mita do babar ka. -- What Kar-sevaks used to recite when they marched towards Ayodhya.

"Gaon Gaon mein jaayenge, Mandir Bhavya Banayenge." - BJP leaders along with Advani

"Ye to kewal jhaanki hai, Kaashi Mathura baaki hai" (this is only a trailor, kaashi and mathura are left)

"Bachcha bachcha Ram ka, Janmbhoomi ke kaam ka’

To this the regional parties (SP, BSP) joined hands in UP against BJP and hollered "Mile Mulayam- Kanshiram, hawa ho gaye Jai Shree Ram "

Anyway BJP's communal politics paid off the dividend when BJP won more than half of the seats in UP in lok sabha elections. Now was the time when Congress assumed its secular character and striked against BJP where it knew would hit the most-- branding BJP as communal it outcried :

"Jaat par na paat par , mohar lagado haath par "

"koi jaat koi biradar , Congress mein sabhi barabar ’ ( no caste, no creed, all are equal in congress) - for 1996 elections .

3 govts changed within next 2 years including Atal Bihari's 13 day stint. And during '99 elections, BJP was on an ever rising tide and Congress at its nadir at a time when many of the top leaders left Congress after Sonia Gandhi was made the party president . And Atal Bihari in his very famous speech said

"Andhera chatega, suraj ugega, kamal khilega"

to which the junta corroborated with "Baari Baari sabki Baari, abki Baari Atal Bihari". The rest is history , kamal khil gaya and NDA ruled full 5 years till 2004.

Came the general elections of 2004 and everyone was blowing his own trumpet. Congress taunted BJP that they were tricksters and actually were against Hindu religion as many slaughter houses opened during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime. Congressmen shouted:

"Gau-maans ka kaun vyapari, Atal Bihari, Atal Bihari"

"Atal sarkar ki kya uplabdhi, gau-maans niryaat mein vridhi" (what are the achievements of atal govt , increase in exports of beef). By that time even Sonia Gandhi had got a strong hold over the party, and people pinned their hopes on her to be the next Indira Gandhi.

"Sonia nahi ye aandhi hai, doosri Indira Gandhi hai"

Alas! for BJP the junta didn't buy their "India Shining" campaign and UPA came to power with MMS as the PM.A full 5 year stint, with many lok-lubhavan schemes as NREGA, RTI, RTE . Then Came 2009 elections and Congress managed to make junta believe that "congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath" and that they really did "Bharat Nirmaan" but with slogans like

"Desh ki Vani, Lal Krishna Advani"

BJP ka LOLwa ho gaya. Fir kya Junta meharbaan to Congress fir se pehalwan. And they plundered the country for next 5 years to fill their coffers..

And today Here we are again, in the karmabhoomi of politics with General elections of 2014 at hand, to decide who will get the chance to loot us for the next five years. But interestingly this time it is not a duel but a tripartite struggle (at least namesake ). But what we are looking for is the eyecatching, tickling slogans which make this war of kurukshetra much more interesting. So who would it be that would end victorious? Would the incumbent party retain the power? Would NDA be able to overthrow the existing rule and come clear with majority? And finally would AAP be able to make any dent on the national politics? Whatever maybe the outcome, but we certainly have our slogans with us to chant.

Chalegi Jhaadu udegi Dhool, na rahega punja na rahega phool? ( although a Copied slogan, the original one used by BSP in 2007 vidhan sabha elections as Chalega Haathi udegi Dhool, na rahega Punja na rahega Phool) ; "bhrashtachar ka ek hi kaal, kejriwal kejriwal"


Abki Baar Modi Sarkaar ; har har modi, ghar ghar modi (credits for reminder- Ujjwal Jain)


Har haath shakti, har haath tarakki.


Chaaron taraf yarhi hai charcha, ab to hoga teesara morcha.

Well this was the macro outlook. But as Mahatma Gandhi used to say that India lives in villages, so does the politics here. The regional politics has much more flavor and surprises. And UP no doubt has been the 'vade mecum' in this. All the controversial statements, all the arousing slogans seem to emerge from this land.

Tilak, taraju aur talwar ; inko maaro joote chaar "

(Tilak(brahmins), taraju( businessmen, kayastha) and talwar(kshatriyas) ...kick them with shoes)- Used by BSP as being smpathisers of the low castes and against the hegemony of the other three.

Vote se lenge PM/CM , aarakshan se lenge SP/DM ’ No points for guessing….it's reservation so it has to be BSP :P

BSP and SP have been so antagonist to each other that even their slogans have played the game of one-upmanship just like Times of India and THE Hindu.

Chad gundon ki chhati par , mohar laga do haathi par " Mayawati used this slogan in 2007 Elections, calling SP members as goons for alleged increase in crime every time they came to power and for people like Raja Bhaiya being in cabinet. To which SP retaliated as

Gunda chad gaya haathi par , goli maar chhati par " (The goonda is firing from atop the elephant).

"Jeetenge to Rum Chalega, warma Goli-bomb chalega"

Similarly during 2012 elections in UP. BSP campagined with "UP me hai dum, kyonki jurm yahan hai kam" to which Congress retaliated as "UP Mein Tha Dam, Kahan Pahuch Gaye Hum" :P

But the slogans which are the show stoppers are the slogans which have been there for eternity. They have been used in college elections. Municipal elections, school elections I mean anywhere and everywhere. They are the evergreen ones, which you can pick any time of the day for any kind of elections and for any kind of personality. You never get bored of them no matter how many times you hear them.

In our college (BITS Pilani) we were not allowed to shout slogans for any candidate during college elections (Now I so wish we were) .Elections used to be as quiet as Mr. MMS :P. Anyway Yeah, so we had one of our friend , Alok Soni who stood for the post of General Secretary. And this chap missed it by a wafer thin margin, and he was arguably the most deserving candidate . So I thought if I were to put the name of any XYZ leader in the evergreen slogans, then it's better to put Alok's name, if we weren't allowed to do it then , we can do it now. So Here they are , and you would find that you already heard these short simple and crispy slogans umpteen number of times .

Apna neta kaisa ho? Alok Soni jaisa ho!

Khaali kar do raaste, Alok Soni ke waast e.

Soni tum aage badho, hum tumhaare saath hain

Jeetega bhai jeetega , Alok Soni Jeetega.

Soni ka tempo high hai , high hai….

At the end, in a country where everyone is at least a 'chutputiya neta' and where politics flows in the blood, there will never be dearth of such catchy phrases which would tickle us, titillate us, and still convey the message they want to give in a healthy manner. And I am sure that there are a lot more such slogans which you know of, so please post them here in comments so that we can together celebrate the right to freedom of speech and expression in this thriving democracy. Cheers!


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    • profile image

      Alok Soni 

      4 years ago

      Kunal Rahar, that's the beauty of reading, a lot.

      Pretty informative and interesting stuff. :)

      Thanks a ton for the mention!

    • profile image

      Ujjwal Jain 

      4 years ago

      Some from my side: Soni hai bhai Soni hai, Jeet isiki honi hai


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