Will #MainBhiChowkidar play as well as ‘chaiwala’ slogan in 2014? The jury is still out on the efficacy of this new campaign.

The poll battle for the 2019 Lok Sabha


Chowkidar Narendra Modi @narendramodi

Your Chowkidar (Chaiwala/chowkidar chor hai) is standing firm & serving the nation.
But, I am not alone.
Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a Chowkidar.
Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar.
Today, every Indian is saying-#Main Bhi Chowkidar

Just before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, former union minister and veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar called Narendra Modi a Chaiwala (tea-seller), providing a fillip to the BJP’s campaign. How the Chaiwala jibe played out then is now history. Now cut back to 2019, BJP’s “Main Bhi Chowkidar” (I, too, am a watchman) campaign is in response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s repeated digs about ”Chowkidar chor hai“(The watchman himself is the thief). Prime Minister Modi set the ball rolling on the campaign by prefixing chowkidar to his Twitter display name. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s other leaders such as president Amit Shah, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, and Nirmala Sitharaman, followed suit. The saffron party also called upon its supporters to promote the “main Bhi chowkidar” theme.

Read: Making of a New VIP Constituency: Why Wayanad suddenly becomes famous

While a Prime Minister referring himself as a Chowkidar (commonly known as security guards, sentry, and watch-men) envisages his role as a protector of a nation, in a job-starved country like India, the same is meant to the roles of more than 7 million workers who are employed in various industries, offices, and institutions by private security services. This number exceeds the total number of people who are employed by the government in civil and nation’s security arrangements.   

Majority of them are involved in long hours of the job with relatively poor salary package and social security. After liberalization in the early 90s, India witnessed a surge of companies that provide security services to mainly privately owned establishments like malls, entertainment parks, schools, etc. To cope with the growing need for security without enhancing the recruitment of police, the government also started outsourcing the needs of security agencies. Today, one can easily see security guards manning ATMs round the clock.

 While it is difficult to gauge the impact of –#MainBhiChowkidar, which has been trending in the micro-blogging sites like Twitter, there are those who think that it is not as effective as Chaiwala recipe which had opened a new venue for party’s campaign in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rahul Gandhi’s #ChowkidarChorHai is also attracting quite a number of people. 

The 49-year-old Gandhi scion has repeatedly been hurling the “chowkidar chor hai” jibe at PM Modi while referring to crony capitalism in the Rafale fighter jet deal, a charge that the BJP-led government has repeatedly rejected. Even on social media, the two main political parties are leaving no stone unturned in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as the stakes are high.