<i>Same old slogans</i>
Tajul Islam blares out slogans through his microphone and urges people to attend a rally, six days short of the national elections.
Accompanied by his co-campaigner Md Sumon, Tajul rides a rickshaw through the shabbiness of Jurain in Old Dhaka. Both are rallying support for Abdul Hai, fielded by the four-party alliance for the Dhaka-4 race.
What strikes passersby as too obvious is the dull, monotonous slogans, used by seemingly jaded campaigners.
Khondker Omar Faisal, a resident of Old Dhaka, says: "There is no new feel to the political slogans. They are more of the same."
A truck that has been pressed into service for election campaigns glides past the bend of the road and a campaigner from inside says: "We seek vote from voters, but blessings from all." Faisal's observation rings true.
That is for street slogans. But the slogans coined to popularise the visions of the parties are the feats of political savvy and mastery.
Bill Clinton's slogan -- "It's the Economy, Stupid" -- had struck the sentiment among US voters at the time. As it turned out, Barack Obama's "Yes-we-can" campaign inspired people around the world to feel that they had a "personal stake" in his success.
BNP's slogan for the 2008 elections -- "Save the Nation, Save People" -- has an undertone of past hurts and fears for future. People allied with the party say it is the BNP that can safeguard the nation against further damage, apparently pointing to the caretaker government.
In Awami League's campaign, one common, oft-repeated issue plays out: the right to vote and the right to food can eliminate poverty. Handlers of the AL campaign say their mission is driven by the "Charter for Change". At least it appears so.
Great slogans are not just well-crafted words, as political analysts say. There should be a connection between the slogan and what is out there in public life.
Tamim Ansary, a columnist for Encarta, has some wise words: A great slogan plucks a string in the political orchestra.
"Because no matter how well-worded a slogan might be, if the string isn't there to be plucked, the slogan will make no music.”