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Posted at: Jan 9, 2017, 1:10 AM; last updated: Jan 9, 2017, 2:05 AM (IST)WOOING WAYS

Here’s a mask that draws candidate, voter closer

Here’s a mask that draws candidate, voter closer
Supporters of Gurpreet Singh GP, the Congress candidate from Bassi Pathana, wear his masks in Bassi Pathana. Tribune Photo

Minna Zutshi

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8

A mask, a bit of pop psychology and a political message. What does it all add up to? In election days, it contributes to the visibility factor, as Gurpreet Singh GP, the Congress candidate from Bassi Pathana Assembly constituency in Fatehgarh Sahib, believes. “During campaigning, it’s imperative that your name and face are familiar to the voters,” he says.

During his meetings and rallies, GP distributes his masks among the gathering. “Supporters enjoy wearing them. It’s fun,” says GP.

“Children love these paper masks too. Even women keep asking for the same,” says Kirandeep Kaur, a party worker.

Though the all-pervasive presence of the social media has changed the dynamics of the upcoming Assembly poll, elections in India remain a “distinctive social and sensory experience”, as writer Mukulika Banerjee writes in her book, Why India Votes?

Rhetoric, emotive appeals and the use of props such as masks offer a heightened sensory experience — a tactic that most political poll managers use effectively in the elections.

Psychologists say the idea of candidates distributing masks to enhance their visibility is drawn from the psychological concept of ‘mere-exposure effect’ — a phenomenon wherein we develop a liking for a person or a thing familiar to us. Whether this liking translates into votes on the D-Day (February 4) is a different issue.

Santokh Singh Salana, AAP candidate from Bassi Pathana, says the mask as a campaign prop works only for prominent leaders.

“Candidates should go out and meet the voters. What is the point of trying to reach out to the public through masks?” he asks.

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