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Song sung true

The campaign songs put out by the three parties in the Delhi fray clearly enunciated what they stood for. AAP’s cheeriness clearly trumped BJP’s doomsday scenario

As the metro stopped and opened its doors at designated stops, the unmistakable beats of AAPs campaign song for Assembly elections 2020 seemed to be heard every other day. Sometimes in the morning sometimes at night, it engaged us long enough to subliminally engrain that we too (perhaps) were wanting Kejriwal to “Lage raho”.

Songs for an election battle are not new. Even recently, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections we saw the BJP and the Congress releasing not one but two songs. One was an official anthem and a second, a rap tune, on the lines of the film Gully Boy to appeal to the youth.

But even that year when I was out covering the elections, the songs were not being played with as much gusto. They had no impact on my mind, which has a habit of creating a loop of music, no matter how atrocious the song. But “Lage raho Kejriwal” was something else. It haunted me for days on end.

Music composer Vishal Dadlani seems to have put some voodoo into those catchy beats which were then played over and over and over and over again. Think of a scene from A Clockwork Orange.. No, my eyes weren’t clamped open, nor was I forced to watch films of violence, but instead of Beethoven’s music I had the AAP tune. But while in the film it was used as aversion therapy, it had an opposite effect here.

Before the elections, there was also a video going around on Twitter which showed a bride walking in and the dance floor packed with wedding guests dancing to the tune of AAP’s campaign song. What voodoo is this, Dadlani?

I’m not saying it was the effect of this song that was a cause for AAP winning Delhi, this time 62 seats out of 70. Dadlani told the news agency ANI, that the AAP did not win the election because of his song, saying “Nobody wins an election on the basis of a song. The song serves the purpose of reminding people of the work done by the government. The election has been won on the basis of the work done by the government”.

And well, that is right. The AAP song from the word go was about Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, which then proceeded to show his past as an anti-corruption activist, taking the bus, looking as simple as any other day in Kejriwal’s “commoner” life. It was all about what Kejriwal had succeeded in bringing for the people of Delhi, from healthcare to schools, to electricity, each accomplishment accompanied by catchy beats.

The party’s positive song, about development achievements, definitely trumped the BJP’s, whose song was mudslinging its opponents and making it an election against them and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protestors.

The saffron party started its video showing images of Kejriwal, CPI member Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU student Umar Khalid, film director Anurag Kashyup, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, Muslims protesting and students sloganeering — and also, how could they not — the Shaheen Bagh protest site. With the words “Ab jaag tu”, it called the people of Delhi to wake up to their ‘plight’.

It went on to call these protestors anti-nationals, showed video clips of Lord Mountbatten and his wife, then another of a Muslim invasion, a clip of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi with the words “firangi” (foreigner) sung alongside. All in all, a pretty negative video, labelling people in all sorts of terms and themselves as someone who were going to awaken the people from the traitors and the terrorists.

The song’s beat was strong, deep, wanting to create an impact with a doomsday vibe, definitely not the cheeriness that AAP was going for. Also, the song ‘Jago Dilli’ was long at 4:28 minute compared to AAPs 2:52 minute song.

I only heard this tune from auto rickshaws going around my colony, their presence was not anywhere as invasive to my head like AAP’s was, nor was Congress’.

Congress’ campaign song ‘Phir se Congress wali Delhi’ at 2:30 minutes was the shortest one of the three and like the AAP it emphasised on the party’s achievements when it governed Delhi for 15 years under former chief minister (late) Sheila Dikshit.

The theme was that the Congress made Delhi what it is, with its flyovers, roads, highways, the Metro, the works. It focused on the Gandhis —Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka — besides a clip of Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra.

While the tune was upbeat and could have caught the youth’s fancy, it didn’t. I only heard the song once, blared out by autorickshaw speakers. The Congress, like in 2015, won no seats.

I am happy to note however, that on result day, the aversion therapy worked. The AAP’s office where I was that day played the song on a loop, and thus “Lage raho Kejriwal” finally exited my head on February 12.