Bollywood Style Political Ads in Indian Elections

bjpvsincThe battle between India’s two main political parties is heating up as voters prepare to head to the polls tomorrow (April 16) for the first of five phases of India’s ‘Lok Sabha’ elections. The Lok Sabha (or House of The People) is India’s version of the House of Commons in Canada in that it is the body of directly elected representatives of the people of India. Whoever controls the house becomes the ruling party for 5 years. Polls will close on  May 13, 2009.

The two main parties are:

  1. Indian National Congress (INC, a.ka. ‘The Congress’) - Current ruling party.
  2. Bharatiya Janata Party (”Indian People’s Party”, BJP)

Indian elections are monumental by nature. As one of the largest and most populated countries in the world, the numbers involved are staggering:

  • Eligible Voters: 714 Million, a ’slight’ increase of about 40 million voters since the previous elections in 2004
  • Elections Budget: 176 Million Euros (approx. $280 Million CAD).
  • Number of Seats: 552
  • Number of competing candidates in 1st Phase: 1715 candidates (122 women).
  • Voting Style: Electronic
  • Number of voting machines: 1,368,430 voting machines in 828,804 polling stations across the country

With such a vast election covering vast territories, political ads in India have their own special flavour. How else would you convince the majority of 714 million voters to elect your party? The term ‘Political Song and Dance’ is taken literally here, with parties vying to capture the hearts and minds of India’s diverse population.

INC “Hand Of Congress”

In the ad above, the girl says to her uncle: “Look what I’ve done with my hands”, and afterwards he shows her what the hand of the Congress has achieved.

In fact, the Congress party was successful in buying the exclusive rights to the “Jai Ho” song featured at the end credits of internationally acclaimed movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The song, which translates into ‘Be Victorious’, won the Oscar for Best Song in the 2009 Academy Awards.The party has been using it in elections rallies across the country, along with various other Bollywood-inspired campaigns.

This did not go well with the BJP party, so they created their own anthem to remind people of the grateness of the BJP era, which ruled india from 1999 to 2004 .

BJP “Anthem For Change”

I expect nothing less from such a colourful and diverse country!

[More Indian Election ad videos available here from France 24]

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