Made and released by the Bharatiya Janata Party on the eve of the Delhi assembly election, this short ‘music video’ is a master class in propaganda. It has traded the unappealing visuals of bad-looking, misshapen men (with terrible diction) with a cinematic experience that is at least visually more appealing. But like all propaganda, this too needs to be deconstructed for its naked intent and vicious content. If there’s one thing that the four-minute video makes clear, it is that the BJP no longer wants your love and allegiance. It wants your hate.
Why does the BJP want your hate? The answer is so short-and-simple that it is chilling: because it wants to win Delhi elections.
Who does it want you to hate?
First, the “dhongi” and trickster AAP government that is running the “dukaan of jhooth and fareb” and presiding over the destruction of Delhi through dharnas. You may or may not be persuaded with two burning-bus images (and even their fires and fumes need to be zoomed in) but the video wants you to believe that Delhi is burning. It wants you to believe that your education and health gains be damned, your lower bills be damned, you have to wake up, buckle down and rise up to quell this raging fire that is engulfing Delhi.
The video next turns its gaze on its other pet peeves – Kanhaiya Kumar, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and Chandrashekhar Azad, interspersed with flashing images of bearded men, men with skull caps, women of Shaheen Bagh, of people holding placards against CAA and NRC. There’s also a fleeting image of the film fraternity that sat at the Gateway of India in Mumbai against the CAA_NRC. Then no charge of treacherous villainy can be complete without the Gandhis and without a reiterated indictment of the Muslim. The video flashes images of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, the voiceover calls them firangi. Next follows the image of probably Amir Aziz (the poet who penned ‘sab yaad rakkha jayega) and to him the voiceover ascribes the epithet, Mughaliya.
The dhongis, farebis, desh drohis, ghaddars, firangis and the Mughaliyas are the treacherous traitors of this country you are meant to Hate. To the march of a drum-beat and to a chant that reverberates and crescendos, you are told that these are the people who are breeding the many Shaheen Baghs, dividing the country and attempting to once again partition what was once “akhand bharat”.
But you are mistaken if you thought that the list of ‘drohis’ – convenient shorthand for traitors – ends here. In each of these images is a suggestion, an insinuation, and an allegation. You, you and you, who ever stood up to this government, ever walked in protest, ever held a placard, ever joined the chorus for unity and diversity of this country, ever preached communal harmony, you – the chorus chants to the drum beats in the video – you are implicated, you are the traitor that is threatening to tear the country apart again. You are the real enemy.
But the list doesn’t end even here. If you feel secure because you are not a dissenting citizen, think again. As a neutral, non-partisan person you may have voted the BJP for development and corruption-free governance, but even you are implicated if you are not willing to set aside your expectations.
This video is but one more instance of the government telling you that its real task is to save the country from division and a second partition. It needs to win this election and gain power so that it can stop “Delhi burning”. It is telling you that issues of health, education, jobs, infrastructure are no longer important enough for it to even feature in its propaganda videos and speeches. When these issues go missing even from the official rhetoric, know that “this” you can no longer expect of it, your vote and your issues notwithstanding.
This propaganda video is telling us that beyond the hollowed out trope of rashtra, beyond the hate-filled invective, beyond the violent brink to which this rhetoric of hate pushes us again and again, there is nothing more that the party can give now. The BJP indicts itself on this score. The more it trumps up the idea of a nation imperiled by its internal enemies, the more resounding its own hollowness becomes.
Rajshree Chandra teaches Political Science at Janki Devi Memorial College, Delhi University.