Congress leader Mani Shanker Iyer had infamously made the Chai wala jibe in 2014. In the midst of elections, he had ranted that Modi can distribute tea but cannot become the PM. This controversial comment had somewhat polarized electorate as those insulting words became synonymous with the identity of a common man. It resonated with PM Modi’s identity and evoked emotional outbursts. Chai wala remark became the trigger and ‘Chai pe Charcha’ campaign was formally launched. It helped BJP storm into power and the Congress party was virtually demolished in the Lok Sabha polls to its worst performance.
In an interview to Zee news, PM Modi had spoken about various achievements of his govt. He was in particular speaking about the highly successful Mudra Yojana launched by the Centre which has empowered small-scale entrepreneurs and informal sectors.
In order to explain his point, PM stressed that if someone opens a ‘pakoda’ shop and earns two hundred rupees a day, does that not count as employment?
He further added that perhaps these small scale jobs wouldn’t amount to employment numbers and undoubtedly there has being massive employment opportunities created on the ground.
Immediately, the statement caused a flutter in the media circles with trends of ‘Pakodas’ and ‘I want a job’ went streaming across the internet. Opposition went haywire and somewhere didn’t think about the sensibilities of people working in this sector.The liberals obviously started making fun of the remarks and importantly, the opposition latched on to it and made their own low level suppositions and counter remarks. Hardik Patel chipped in by saying that only a Chaiwala can tell somebody to sell Pakodas. But the most disgusting counter came from the former finance minister P Chidambaram who equated begging as employment in order to take a swipe at the PM. He further added in his twitter thread that the govt has failed to generate employment in the last three years and is clueless about creating the same.
Unfortunately, mainstream politicians such as Chidambaram used this opportunity to get back at the PM but in the midst of it they ended up insulting the hard working individuals of the informal sector. Comparing a Pakoda seller with a beggar was a mixture of arrogance, making fun and exhibiting ignorance at the concept of employment creation. This definitely may have secured support from the leftist liberals and like minded keyboard warriors. But individuals like pakoda sellers or those having a humble enterprise on the streets are certainly angry with these insensitive comments coming from the opposition.
The Chai wala comment was converted into a successful Chai pe Charcha campaign campaign by the BJP in 2014. And now it was time to transform this Pakoda backlash into a better platform to channelise this anger.
Following the immensely popular Chai pe Charcha campaign in 2014, the BJP is going to launch ‘Pakoda pe Charcha’ campaign for 2019. The dig taken by the Congress party against the PMs Pakoda remark will certainly polarize the anger in favour of the BJP. If ‘Chai pe Charcha’ in 2014 was BJPs push to discuss the objectives of electing Modi led BJP, ‘Pakoda pe charcha’ will be about providing that necessary podium to exhibit positive changes on the ground after BJP has come to power. Nevertheless, both these campaigns are based on streamlining that necessary anger against Congress and those who had mocked the common man in context with Chaiwala and selling Pakodas. Expected to roll out in two to three months, this campaign is expected to repeat the 2014 success and will drive BJPs efforts to set the momentum rolling for 2019.
‘Chai pe Charcha’ reduced the Congress to a paltry figure of 44 in 2014. Instead of mounting a constructive criticism, the party or the opposition has mastered the art of defaming the PM in way which is akin to insulting a common man on the street. Just like backfiring of Chai wala, comparing Pakoda sellers to beggars will have its own sweet repercussions. With ‘Pakoda pe Charcha’ in the offing, the Congress party is yet again waiting to get decimated to new low numbers in 2019.