Friday, 31 March, 2023
HomeFeaturesGujarat garba season meets elections. BJP, AAP release political songs

Gujarat garba season meets elections. BJP, AAP release political songs

From songs on Ram Mandir, sanatan dharma, Modi's life journey to Kejriwal's promises, politics has hijacked garba nights in Gujarat.

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Falguni Pathak and Neha Kakkar aren’t the only ones who released their new songs for Navaratri this year. The Bharatiya Janta Party too launched 10 new songs on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the garba season in Gujarat, seeking to win hearts, minds and may be votes ahead of the upcoming assembly election.

These songs range from free vaccination, and Article 370 to targeting the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress in the state. It is political garba all the way.

“Garba is an important occasion when the entire state is associated with the festival of Navratri and there is a lot of enthusiasm among the people. So, garba is a medium through which we speak our emotions, they will be remembered for a long time,” says Janak Thakkar, BJP cultural cell convenor, “People are telling us how people are enjoying the songs.”

PM Modi is scheduled to visit Gujarat for two days and is expected to attend a garba. Priyanka Gandhi is also expected to attend a garba, also called sheri garba.

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The garba campaign

Posters of different political parties appear at different garba pandals. Giant posters of Modi tower next to the people dancing to BJP songs in some pandals organised by the Gujarat government. Even Aam Aadmi Party and Congress have put up their posters in the pandals.

AAP has also brought out two songs that narrate the promises made by Arvind Kejriwal. Congress has not brought out any song, but is campaigning by going to sheri garbas.

“Gujarat BJP’s cultural cell has launched 10 songs, by many well-known singers and music composers such as Gita Chauhan, Parthiv Gohil and Divya Chaudhary among others,” says Thakkar.

There are songs that are fast-paced with thumping beats that people can perform the garba dance to, and others specially composed for teen tali garba. All this to the lyrics of Modi’s life journey and the development projects under his government. There are songs for big cities, small towns, north Gujarat, and south Gujarat.

The song that’s trending the most is the one that tells how Modi made his name in the world. Other songs Gujaratis are singing these days have themes of Sanatan dharma and Ram Mandir.

The lyrics go something like this: “good work is being done for Sanatan dharma, the saffron flag is flying high in entire India… with Ram Temple in Ayodhya…a true victory of religion”.

A song recorded for north Gujarat people, that targets AAP and Congress, goes like: “Congress will be finished and AAP will not come in Gujarat, for 60 years Congress ruled and devastated the country”. Artistes who wrote and composed these songs did not charge anything, says the BJP. Singers Maheshsinh Solanki, Amit Barot, Prahar Vora, Hemaliben Vyas, among others were part of these Navaratri-cum-campaign songs.

“Now BJP wants people to dance on their garba songs but the Gujaratis were already spinning around because of unemployment and inflation rates in the state,” says Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.

Congress leaders go to garba

“Propagating party politics in garba is not new but the way BJP has launched the album in an organised way is new. Garba campaigning has increased since the advent of the social media. Now, political parties make their content to go viral,” says Ahmedabad-based political expert Dilip Gohil

If garba nights have been hijacked by the BJP, the Congress is doing a temple run.

Khodaldham temple and sheri garba are part of the party’s campaign strategy. Manish Doshi says, “Our workers go to sheri garbas and reach out to people. We organise rallies during the day and interact with people at night.”

Gujarat Congress leaders are of the view that if a strong woman leader of the party, like Priyanka Gandhi, campaigns in garba during Navratri, it will create an impact. “We have sent our request to the party but so far no such reply has come from their side,” Doshi says.

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‘Not a campaign song’

Continuing its old practice of launching songs in elections, AAP has launched Ek Bhi Ek Garba song on social media in which an appeal has been made to give Kejriwal a chance. “The change that Gujarat has been waiting for years has been mentioned in this garba song,” says Manoj Sorathiya, AAP’s state general secretary.

Through the songs, AAP promises to give free electricity, jobs for 10 lakh youngsters and Rs 1,000 per month to all women. These songs are playing at garba events in Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot.

But Gopal Italiya, AAP state convenor, says that garba is Gujarat’s tradition and political parties mustn’t club culture and campaign. “Unlike BJP, we have tried to make one or two songs about the state culture and religion. They are not campaign songs.”

“We should not connect this with politics. May the goddess guide the BJP to the right path,” says Italiya.

Political expert Amit Dholakia says that AAP can be a challenge for BJP only on social media, not on ground. BJP is aware of the competition, so it is using brand Modi in these songs.

(Edited by Ratan Priya)

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