NEW DELHI: Looking to flip Congress chief Rahul Gandhi jibe on the main opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched a campaign “Main bhi chowkidar hoon” with a tweet, “Your Chowkidar is standing firm & serving the nation”.

The direct riposte to Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidar chor hai” charge in the context of allegations of graft in Rafale deal and alleged leniency to big industrialists, is read as BJP leadership’s decision to confront the challenge by pitching the Prime Minister’s credibility with the voters upfront.

Modi in the tweet said he is not the only person serving the nation and every one who does so is a ‘chowkidar’. “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-#MainBhiChowkidar,” wrote the PM.

The Prime Minister will dedicate an event to the campaign on March 31 as his tweet about its launch was greeted with a deluge of responses from his party colleagues with BJP chief Amit Shah and several other senior leaders signing up the “main bhi chowkidar” pledge. The hashtag trended through the day with a large number of BJP supporters associating with the campaign.

The attack on Modi is read by BJP to present an opportunity similar to the pejorative “chaiwala” tag in the 2014 campaign that allowed the Prime Minister to emphasise his humble beginnings. In recent speeches, the Prime Minister has made repeated references to himself as an alert “chowkidar” who has been a reliable trustee of public good and replaced a culture of nepotism and corruption.

Controversial references by Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar to Modi as a “neech admi” were quickly picked up by the Prime Minister to claim that the comment was a dig of his background. This time too the party is looking to develop a counter narrative and strike a chord with voters with Modi comparing his record with Congress’s “scam tainted” legacy.

Congress and BJP have crossed swords over the flight of economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi with the latter claiming to have built pressure on them while the opposition says they were allowed to escape. BJP leaders feel the Prime Minister’s image and actions like laws to seize assets of offenders who flee India will help the party present a convincing case.

The party has strategically placed the slogan as its campaign theme to challenge the Opposition narrative questioning the integrity of Modi, which party leaders feel, will boomerang on the critics.

BJP sources said the campaign has been started after extensive surveys and data analysis by party strategists who feel that Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ jibes and the campaign is not resonating among people. Surveys suggest that it is actually angering people.

As part of the campaign, a video has been released with an anthem style song of people proudly claiming to be a chowkidar of the country and people can also take the ‘#MainBhiChowkidar” pledge.

The video urges people to join the PM on March 31 for a programme titled ‘Main bhi Chowkidar” where Modi will interact with people from across the country. The party has leveraged a tech innovation called ‘conversation cards’, through which people will get a personalised message from the PM on Twitter when they take the pledge.

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