What it takes to censor a BJP campaign ad in Gujarat. Hint: Pappu

The Election Commission raised objection to the use of word 'Pappu' in reference to Rahul Gandhi in a Gujarat campaign ad

Whether it’s blacking out a television channel for a day or redacting films to suit political/cultural appropriations, the BJP government is notorious when it comes to enforcing film and media censorship. But this time, the Bharatiya Janata Party got censored (yeah, we were surprised too).

The Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of the Election Commission (EC) raised an objection to the use of the word ‘Pappu’ in a reference to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in a pre-election campaign video. After the directive, the Gujarat unit of the BJP tweaked the script to replace ‘Pappu’ with ‘Yuvraj’. According to Urban Dictionary, ‘Pappu’ is a derogatory Hindi nickname used for somebody who is inept.

In the campaign video, Manoj Joshi, who portrayed Chanakya in 2015 TV drama Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, can be seen mocking Rahul Gandhi’s slip-of-tongue. Joshi tells a group of people,

The Yuvraj of the party is a solid comedian — in fact, professional comedians stand no chance before him. People want sawaal ka jawab (answer to a question), but he wants jawab ka sawaal (question to the answer).

Check out the video which is the first in the “Hu chhu vikas, hu chhu Gujarat (I am Vikas, I am Gujarat)” series:

Though the EC refused to discuss the move, a senior BJP leader confirmed to The Indian Express that they had received EC’s directive.

This was one of the rare occasions when the BJP government found itself on the other side of the table when it came to creative censorship. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry recently dropped two films – Nude and S Durga (originally titled Sexy Durga)- from the list of films that were shortlisted to be screened at the International Film Festival of India. Last year, the Ministry had ordered a 24-hour blackout of NDTV India, a Hindi news channel, as a punitive measure for allegedly revealing “strategically-sensitive information” while covering the Pathankot attacks. The BJP government also objected to a few scenes in the Tamil movie Mersal starring Vijay that criticised the recently introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Seems like the BJP, for once, got a taste of its own medicine!