Editorial: Tuning in

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SummaryIt’s poll season and parties have their musical hats on

Turns out Billy Joel did start a fire. The Samajwadi Party’s new campaign jingle, geared towards the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, is based on the tune of Joel’s 1989 hit and sung by Javed Ali. Except, instead of “We didn’t start the fire…”, voters are now encouraged to chant “Mann se hai Mulayam, aur irada loha hai”. The SP song also comes with its own video. Tired of a goggled Billy Joel mouthing the lyrics as the world goes up in flames behind him? Try a jaunty, red-capped Mulayam Singh Yadav swooping down on the rally ground in a helicopter, flashing a free laptop.

It’s election season and political parties have their musical hats on. The array of campaign songs makes for an interesting study of political styles. In contrast to the SP’s rakish jingle, the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi poll offering, composed by Kailash Kher, is anthemic. No talking up individual leaders for the AAP. They speak of a more lofty change—“Aam aadmi ki yahi aawaaz hai, deshh to badlna abhi aur aaj hai / Hum badle to yug badle”. The BJP, meanwhile, has admitted that most of its songs will be centred on Narendra Modi and his “development record”. So Rocky Mittal lustily sings numbers such as “Dabangg hai Modi”. In one song, the BJP adopts Barack Obama’s campaign tagline, “Yes we can”, adding a more emphatic “Yes we do”. Its songs are vigorous, bordering on aggressive, not shy of taking swipes at the Congress or the BSP or even Pakistan. The Congress, battle scarred by poll song debacles (“Jai jai Bhim” in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh polls and “Chak de” in Gujarat, 2007), finally piped up with “Nahin rukegi meri Dilli” before the Delhi assembly elections.

While this musical interlude is welcome, it leads to an inevitable question: will parties change their tune once they come to power?

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