We blame you Ellen DeGeneres. That Oscar selfie you took, which made every cinephile swoon, has made selfies a PR stunt for the world. Ever since you actually broke the internet, there have been repeated attempts by people to break it again. But where someone’s oily buttocks failed to deliver, our country’s Prime Minister claims to have succeeded.
The BJP is claiming that the selfie booths setup across Delhi have generated more than half a million #SelfiesWithModi which is being hailed as breaking the internet. The above statement is factually wrong in every way.
The photos aren’t really selfies, though, as the PM’s face is just edited into a solo picture using an app. While we would like to believe that half a million is a strong number to break the internet, it is hardly a dent in a world where more than a million selfies are taken every day.
The BJP established over 2,500 selfie booths in the Capital in the run up to the upcoming Delhi elections and was considering keeping these booths even after the election due to their overwhelming popularity. The selfie booth was just another tactic in what was a panic-stricken campaign - from announcing Kiran Bedi as the Chief Ministerial candidate to the hastily-made poor Vision Document - BJP showed throughout that it was on the back foot against AAP in its fight for Delhi.
The Prime Minister, a PR maverick and pioneer, has always used technology and social media to stay ahead of his rivals. The ground-breaking 3D hologram rallies grabbed international attention and intrigue, while his inclination to frequently take selfies has transcended into a form of foreign diplomacy. However, the campaign does raise some uncomfortable questions for the Prime Minister and the ruling party.
How long can the BJP expect to ride every campaign on the popularity of the Prime Minister? Delhi was seen as a chance for the party to field strong candidates and talk about real issues which affect the ordinary citizen. Instead, we saw a strategy akin to the 2014 National elections, built around a single individual. The Delhi Campaign further cemented Narendra Modi as the most powerful political entity in the country, maybe even bigger than his own party.
As for the ordinary citizen, he/she can only wonder how the zeal to set up selfie booths translates to solving the country’s problems. The logistical efficiency which was displayed to garner favour with the Delhi youth could be used to help solve the sanitation problem or the ‘Clean India’ Campaign, both of which are close to the PM’s heart. But perhaps that is what the euphoric Modi win has inspired - a culture where it’s better to broadcast one’s intention rather than deliver on the action.
Words: Devang Pathak