Elections

Political Advertisements That Have Led To Controversies

As we approach Lok Sabha election 2024, here are some political advertisements that have stirred controversies.

A scene from BJP's '...war rukwa di papa' ad
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In the age of information, political landscapes have undergone an evolution to embrace the power of advertisement as a potential tool for shaping the opinion of the masses. The political parties in India have effectively harnessed the realm to elevate the status of cult figures of their party and political leaders. The prevalence of political ad campaigns in India keeps reaching alarming proportions, with serious consequences such as raids and arrests. 

While the role of advertisement in disseminating information and connecting leaders with citizens is undeniable, the risk lies in the potential sidelining of crucial debates on policies.

One noteworthy aspect of concern involves the selective use of information, where facts are presented in a manner that favors a particular narrative. This practice has been observed in various instances, contributing to the broader debate of on the responsible use of information in political communication.

Here is a list of political campaigns that led to controversies in the past few years:

'…War Rukwa Di Papa' Ad

Recently, an advertisement was released on PM Narendra Modi's official YouTube handle, where a girl is seen in an airport with her parents. The girl in the advertisement says, “Maine kaha tha na, kaisi bhi situation ho, Modi ji humein ghar le aayenge. War rukwa di papa aur phir humari bus nikaali papa. (I had told you, whatever the situation, Modi ji will bring us home. He stopped the war, papa, and then rescued our bus).”

The advertisement was referring to the voice of Indian students who were stuck in Ukraine, during the initial days of the Russia - Ukraine war, some of whom managed to return.

This advertisement was widely criticised by the opposition leader due to its factual flaws. Reacting to the advertisement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi posted a video of a girl on his X account, who was explaining the situation of Indian students in Ukraine. Gandhi wrote, “Today a youth sent me this video! Now the truth is coming out after breaking the web of confusion and fear. This time the 'Papa of Propaganda' is not going to melt down, the public itself is ready to show him the mirror.”

AAPs Modi Hatao Desh Bachao campaign
AAP's 'Modi Hatao Desh Bachao' campaign PTI Photo
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AAP’s Modi Hatao Desh Bachao

In March 2023, Aam Aadmi Party launched a poster campaign in which it was written in the red colour background that, Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao (Remove Modi, Save the Nation). Delhi Police filed over 100 FIRs in this case, and more than half a dozen people, including the printing service provider, were arrested. The party was criticised for this campaign.

BJP poster in Rajasthan that allegedly misused a farmers face
BJP poster in Rajasthan that allegedly misused a farmer's face
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When a Rajasthan farmer accused the BJP of misusing his photo

Just before the 2023 assembly election of Rajasthan, BJP launched posters of a farmer along with the heading, “19 Hazaar se Adhik, Kisaano ki Zameen Nilaam, Nahi Sahega Rajasthan (More than 19 thousand farmers' land auctioned, Rajasthan will not tolerate this)”. The farmer, Madhuram Jaipal, who lives in Jaisalmer, claimed that BJP is misusing his photo in their campaign. In an interview, he said, “I do not have any loan, and none of my land has been auctioned.” The posters were widely criticised by the Congress Party. 

Poster women of the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana
Poster women of the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana
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Poster women of the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana

In 2021, the BJP launched a poster with a photo of women standing in front of a new house, the poster claimed that the women got a new house under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Later on, the woman Laxmi Devi, whose photo was used in these posters claimed that she never got any house under the said yojana. In an interview, she said, “It is a complete myth that I received a house under the Central scheme. I did not receive any house from BJP leaders. I stay with my son. After my husband died, I used to work in various households as a maid to meet our needs. No political party ever approached us.”

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