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5 Mar, 2024 12:11

Indian ministers join Modi ‘family’ ahead of general election

The Bharatiya Janata Party has launched a viral campaign in response to an opposition leader’s jibe
Indian ministers join Modi ‘family’ ahead of general election

Officials from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s largest political group, have started identifying as members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s family ahead of national elections this spring.

On Monday, India’s topmost leaders added “Modi ka parivar” (Modi’s family) to their social media profiles, drawing attention to the party’s latest campaign. According to reports, the drive is a reaction to opposition leader Lalu Prasad Yadav’s jibe at Modi – asking why he does not have a family. Yadav, former chief minister of the state of Bihar, allegedly took the potshot over the prime minister’s frequent attacks on “dynastic politics” or nepotism in the opposition.

The campaign seeks to counter “personal attacks” and “petty remarks” against Modi for the past 16-17 years, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi clarified on Monday, according to The Hindu. “For Prime Minister Modi, the entire country is his family,” Trivedi, who is also an MP, asserted.

This stunt is reminiscent of the BJP’s “main bhi chowkidar” (I too am a watchman) campaign launched ahead of the 2019 election in response to senior opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidaar hi chor hai” (the watchman is the thief) jibe against Modi. The BJP showed the prime minister embracing the identity of a ‘watchman’ against corruption and other misdeeds, and his supporters also assumed the symbolic identity on social media.

In the upcoming election, exit polls predict a comfortable victory for the BJP amid a fractured opposition. The right-wing party and its allies could win 335 of the 543 seats in the lower house of parliament, private media group India Today’s ‘Mood of the Nation’ poll found last month. If the BJP wins, Modi will return as prime minister for a third term.

On Sunday, Modi held a special meeting with his ministerial colleagues to discuss strategies ahead of the vote. He asked ministers to be “mindful” of what they state publicly and with whom they are seen, according to the Economic Times. The leader further cautioned against deepfakes and AI, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources. The meeting also featured a vision document for ‘Viksit Bharat 2047’ (developed India 2047), outlining how to make India a “developed nation” by 2047.

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