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India political parties strive to appeal to the common man

Political parties in India have begun forming their poll strategies well ahead of the 2014 general elections, and they all seem to want to project themselves as representatives of the common man.

NEW DELHI: Political parties in India have begun forming their poll strategies well ahead of the 2014 general elections, and they all seem to want to project themselves as representatives of the common man.

The election date has not yet been announced; neither are party manifestos out, but political advertisements are already flooding the streets.

They are all targeting the common man -- the ordinary Indian.

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate never fails to mention that he is not from the elite class.

Narendra Modi was just an ordinary tea vendor before joining politics, and so he claims empathy with the troubles and travails of the depressed classes.

Roadside tea parties are being organised to drive home the point.

Music videos touting Mr Modi's humble origins are also being distributed.

The ruling Congress party, which has always projected itself as a party of the poor, is having a harder time connecting with that very constituency.

Its undeclared prime ministerial candidate belongs to the political elite, and so Rahul Gandhi has posters showing him with working class Indians.

But it is the newcomer to the political scene which seems to be making it its mission to serve the ordinary Indian.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, is known as the common man's party.

It consists of non-politicos who have gotten together to rid India of corruption.

Political analyst Renu Mittal said: "Kejriwal, among the three of them (prime ministerial candidates), is the newest entrant on the block. He is the guy who has come in as a rebel, the anarchist who wants to take on the system. He thinks in the short term at least he can be a counter to established political parties."

So who exactly is the common man or woman among the 800 million Indians eligible to vote this year?

It is the Indian who has no connection to power, who pays minimum taxes or earns too little to even pay taxes, who wants job creation and an end to price rises and corruption.

With much public anger being directed at political parties which have ignored the poor and marginalised, politicians are only too keenly aware that they run the risk of not being elected, should they dismiss this critical group of people again. 

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