In 2014 Lok Sabha election, I was working with Congress Party in Jharkhand. It was a second election for me. In my first election that, I had managed the political campaign of a candidate in 2009 Vidhan Sabha election and we did end up on the winning side. This time the canvas was bigger and stakes were higher, yet we came up short and ended on a losing side.
So, it’s time for an honest introspection and to learn from the obvious.
When I look at the statistical result of the recently concluded 2014 Lok Sabha election I can safely state that statistical data do not provide the real picture or should I say the right story.
About 50% of the total votes were polled in the favour of two major political parties, namely BJP and Congress (INC) and the rest get distributed among scores of national and regional political parties.
Percentage of Votes
No. of Votes Got
No. of Seats Won
It’s interesting that BSP got about 2.29 crore votes but still it could not get a single seat in Lok Sabha.
On the other hand, ADMK and AITC got lesser number of votes, yet they ended up with 3rd and 4th highest number of seats.
As one say, both these political parties played well and scored big in the seats which really mattered. They knew where they were going to win and they did put their best efforts in these key seats. This statement can be extended to BJP too, as it maximized its Lok-Sabha seats to 282, despite getting only 31% of the votes.
I think unlike BSP and Congress; the votes of BJP, AITC and ADMK were not spread out thinly across large number of seats. One can attribute that to either to BJP’s good fortune or to the exceptional work of their poll-management team. It seems that BJP got their supporters to vote for their candidates in large numbers.
Now let’s get back to the story behind those seat numbers.
We shall be looking at the few key take-away from the unprecedented elections campaign of BJP, which yielded rich dividend to them as they emerged as a single largest party with an absolute majority. Just a year ago, not a single political-pundit would have guessed and predicted such a political scenario; wherein BJP gets absolute majority and opposition stand decimated. Except perhaps the BJP volunteers (karyakarta) and its supporters, who were quietly and diligently working on the ground to achieve their stated goals, across India.
Even in the chaotic world of Indian Politics, good number of people could see the method behind the so-called madness.
It is clear that BJP’s political campaigns covered almost all the bases and manage to add localization content to maximize the impact of their messages on their targeted voters.
Mind you the era of mass-marketing and the policy of one size fits all is clearly over. It’s dead.
Say for instance, BJP delivered different kind of political campaign message in Western Uttar Pradesh; however it picked up different issues in South Bangalore.
In addition, their campaign was shored up by unlimited supply of poll-funds and support of the RSS cadres, other friendly sociopolitical outfits and not to forget the unwavering support of BJP cadres.
Together they worked like a well-oiled machine to win a war of “Perception”, land a heavy punch on its political opponents, to knock them out, in the long drawn out political battles.
It’s imperative that we learn from our mistakes and take corrective actions, sooner than later.
So what could be clear-cut lessons that one could draw from this election?
# Effective Communication Is The Key, The Centre-piece
BJP realized that effective communication is only way to win the election. So to lead their election campaign, they chose a leader, who is an excellent communicator, Narendra Modi.
In the Indian Election Marathon, Modi was first of the block; he not only started early but kept on acceleration on the race track. He started setting the agenda and dominating the mind-space.
While other political parties, including Congress seemed unsure and burdened by their huge baggage of the past. Maybe the other political parties were unprepared to tackle the communication blitz unveiled by the BJP. Its noteworthy that BJP was the only Political Party that publicly communicated a number, viz. “Mission 272+” in the public domain. It was a smart strategy, as it not only motivated its cadres to go for the kill but also helped them attract new (undecided) voters into their fold, as they saw only one party in ascendancy and taking over the mantle.
On the other hand, many leaders of Congress publicly accepted that they could not communicate their achievements and positive points, effectively. And it cost them dearly.
# Traditional-Media & Social Media Can Either Build Or Destroy Political Career
We live in the age of highly interconnect digital world, the world where the 360 degree communication is a norm, than an exception.
The Traditional-Media as well as the rapidly growing Social-Media are feeding off each other and becoming powerful with each passing day, as the literacy grows and the technology extend its reach.
BJP and its online volunteers used Social Media to destroy the “credibility” of its political opponents, in the eyes of its voting public. Their pointed and vicious on-line attacks on its political opponents also found its way into the news and views featured in the traditional media. The Ad-Blitz in traditional media was unprecedented and it did win them support from a section of our powerful traditional media. The traditional media not only amplified the negative points of the BJP’s political opponents, especially the principal opponent but also took the sheen off its political opponents.
With loss of credibility, the common voters stopped listening to the messages of BJP’s political opponents. As a result, there was a definitive shift in the public-mood and later votes towards BJP.
# Good Numbers of People Have Started Speaking Up
Couple of years, the launch of an anti-corruption heralded the arrival of civil society at the centre-stage of Indian Politics. The educated middle class was no longer going to remain a mute-bystander, as far as Indian politics was concerned. They want to participate in the political process of our country and if possible, they want to make a difference.
Clearly, many of them are / were unhappy with the “governance” on display. Being educated, gives them confidence to take on the world, to question the ruling class, on their acts of omissions, if any. Taking a cue from Middle-class, even relatively poor-sections of our society too started questioning their rulers, demanding better lives for themselves and their future generations.
Bravery is infectious.
The popular anger and discontent spilled on the streets and on the various social and traditional media. The common people have found their voices and it’s only going to grow louder in days to come. Such is power of democracy. When voters get angry, they usually vent their anger on ruling class. Many of them, no longer believe in showing respect to the political rulers.
No doubt, BJP surfed on the wave of popular discontent and it “positioned” itself perfectly to replace the Congress, as a viable or perhaps the only alternative. And it helped BJP.
It’s time to open up two-way communication between the Rulers and the Commoners.
# Old Style Of Politics Is Dead And Buried
The old rules of the political game has been turned on its head by BJP, as it ran a very successful political campaign based on the ideas of Credibility, Performance and Promises, as they took centre stage in the political vocabulary. Although, it would be wrong on my part to deny that we live in the world of Generation-Me, My and Mine; they are driven by self-interest and their own economic well-being, it takes precedence over many other issues like communalism, socialism, inequity, et al. BJP realized that, other parties could not.
BJP ran a very successful political campaign as it appealed to the aspirations and dreams of its voters besides successfully exploiting the deep underlying fear and baser instincts of our people.
I shall not go into the details of elaborate BJP campaign at this point of time, maybe at later date.
To conclude, I can reiterate that the Indian Voters want to see some real action on the ground and mere words won’t really help the political parties.
Voters have given their verdict, loud and clear, its Perform or Perish.
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