Kejri-wall to Baazigar: Will Delhi Decide Its Next CM on His Party’s Meme-Making Skills?

Politics

Kejri-wall to Baazigar: Will Delhi Decide Its Next CM on His Party’s Meme-Making Skills?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Over the last five years the “IT cell” has become as integral to our political system as videos of party workers pouring milk over photographs of their own leaders. Gone are the days when politicians debated policies or gave TV interviews or held press conferences. These days, party workers can be identified when they randomly show up in your notifications declaring an undying affection for their respective political leader, and their equal disregard for original thought.

Today, as these IT cells acquire personalities of their own, we’ve learnt to accept them with their personalities, like we do with family. You can read more about the inner working of these cells (at your own risk) on Quora, where all the verified news goes. The TL;DR is that the BJP guys are the ones who get randomly aggressive when someone mentions Nehru or JNU, the Congress guys can only be summoned when someone says the word “Rafale” three times in a row, while cells of other smaller outfits are like the shy folk at a Roadies audition, hiding in dark corners until it’s their time to shine.

A few weeks before Delhi elections, another contender entered this IT cell battle arena, armed in equal parts with the commitment to delivering good governance and the next viral meme. Showing us it’s possible to be both funny, and declare unwavering loyalty to your own ideology, the Aam Aadmi Party’s IT cell — which is presumably run by a group of stand-up comedians who remained in the bud — is pegged to be the next big social media craze since Baba Sehgal’s last track. And what a breath of fresh air it has been.

While the BJP IT cell has been busy reminding us that India was more developed in 4,000 BC than it is today, and the Congress has had a tendency of strolling in three hours too late to every conversation with a “take” from 2013, the AAP cell has decided that it’s time to stop taking politics so seriously, and has transformed into that uncle at a wedding that no one can resist laughing along with. Finally, it’s possible to laugh at jokes again without being complicit in some kind of anti-national activity.

AAP’s fine form began when the handle shared a meme indicating the BJP’s lack of candidates in Delhi that shows three Spider-Men pointing at each other. It was further elevated when they came up with the exceptional pun “Kejri-wall” to modify the old Ambuja cement ad, and culminated with the soon-to-be classic, “Super Kejriwal” — a take on the popular game Mario, in which we see a cartoon chief minister going around slashing electricity rates and opening schools, presumably while a graphic designer pops a painkiller in the background.

So far the Aam Aadmi Party has made it a point to avoid entering major national debates — the party’s stand on Article 370, Ram Mandir, and the CAA has been rather muted compared to other parties — or send spokespersons to most primetime news debates. Now eight years on, it seems this is the strategy it’s finally settled with. As the protests over the CAA-NRC escalate, and the violence grows in colleges across the country, the AAP has decided that its job is to firmly focus on issues in the state without taking itself too seriously.

A couple of days ago, the three towering personalities – BJP, Congress, and the AAP – who are fighting to be in charge of the capital of the world’s largest democracy, finally decided it would only be fitting to settle this duel over a still from Baazigar, a movie that released 27 years ago.

AAP’s fine form began when the handle shared a meme indicating the BJP’s lack of candidates in Delhi that shows three Spider-Men pointing at each other.

AAP first put out the tweet, implying that Shah Rukh (AAP) would be more likely to woo the Delhi electorate (Kajol) than Siddharth Ray standing in the background watching the whole scene unfold with a heartbroken look on its face (BJP).

After presumably sending their own meme-maker to police custody for not coming up with the idea first, the BJP tweeted its typically “banter-but-it’s-actually-a-threat” counter — “Whoever is handling this account is writing Arvind Kejriwal’s obituary. SRK was a manipulative villain in the movie who was plotting against Kajol and her family. He killed Kajol’s sister… And he got killed for his sins. The same fate awaits Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.”

Meanwhile, as the BJP was busy proving that it definitely couldn’t take a joke, the Congress thought to itself, “All the other cool kids are doing it, why can’t I”, and jumped in on the action. A statement put out by the party’s (official) Delhi handle indicated that Kajol (the Delhi electorate) was, in fact, looking wistfully in the distance at the Congress party (not pictured). Fabulous counter bro, what would this country do without 70 years of you?

It’s been clear since pre-2014 that all future elections will be fought on social media, and that manifestos could never have the same connect with the younger generations as well-crafted memes. When voters go into the polling booth are they expected to remember the fact that Kejriwal released a music video using footage of a dancing Manoj Tiwari from the BJP?

But let’s be honest, it’s not like our politicians have better ideas when prompted to talk about politics. Take for instance, Delhi’s possible CM candidate Tiwari’s interview with Rahul Kanwal, in which he’s posed a series of questions about policy and the economy, to which he replies that he will “find someone” to solve the problems, and assures the anchor that the “party’s plan” will reduce the prices of essential commodities. Since it’s clear he isn’t going to formulate these policies himself, maybe it’s more apt if his party makes memes of him dancing in memes as well.

Basically, if in the last few years, the BJP IT cell has taken on the role of convincing us that Rajdeep Sardesai would be better suited for a job with ISIS, and the Congress has turned into a calendar that reminds you to wish one of its erstwhile leaders a happy birthday or a restful death day, the AAP has seemingly decided to remind us that there is some humour left in politics. And considering the headlines streaming in from our country in the last few months, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

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