The victory was overwhelming. The defeat crushing. The Victorious could not explain – they were themselves surprised – not at the victory, but its magnitude, and the vanquished – they had no explanation. It would not have mattered, even if they had one.
The galvanizing message was subtle, continuous and rhetorical – Acche Din Ayange – I will fulfill your hopes provided you fulfill my goals – Prime Ministership with a 272+ majority in parliament. The Counter was poor – We have done it all, extended your rights. Divisive politics will destroy you….
One was Positive, the other negative. What did the Indian people choose? The Positive. It’s a lesson that all politicians, perhaps need to learn – Always feed on the positivity of the Indian People rather than use the TINA factor to win them over.
As the Campaign began, the Perception was, that the nation was in bad shape – the polity was frayed by corruption in both low and high places, there was poor economic and employment growth, prices of ordinary living items were rising beyond reach, the deficits were growing wider, the centre and the states were in a constant state of confrontation, there was poor defense preparedness, due to delay and corruption in defense purchases, there was a general lack of decision making and a general deterioration of India’s position among the comity of nations. This perception was in relation to the expectations that people had vis-à-vis these important elements of nation building. These expectations were again the result of perception shaped by the opposition in a variety of ways.
Perception breeds in the silence of the mind – Ultimately it shapes human thought, speech and action. It may or may not reflect ground reality. It’s molded by a number of factors – the human experience, and external inputs from a variety of sources – human, electronic and print, and in the run up to the elections, the government’s knee jerk and uncoordinated reactions to events, a policy paralysis caused by a divided UPA, a thought gap between the Congress Party and the Government, a divided parliament, and primarily a lack of interactivity with the beneficiaries of its activities and programmes which were primarily carried out by the state governments giving them the advantage of first level recognition in regard to those initiatives.
Obviously there was a perceptional chasm, between what, those in government thought was delivered to its constituents, over the last five to ten years and the expectations the people had. This gap was widened by knee jerked action on the one hand and inaction on the other. It was also impacted by an extensive and relentless campaign in this regard, within Parliament, and on Electronic and Social Media which began almost 2 years ago, which was created and run by brilliant minds, who understood human psychology better than their opponents did or even cared – their disdain for this inexact science proved costly on May 16th.
There was initially, a sense of disquiet, then a sense of despair, and ultimately a sense of desperation, primarily among the youth, the middle class, those employed in the private sector and those who owned the private sector – the class of people that were aspirational and wanted to live the dream just as our PM in waiting did. He didn’t ignore them, he addressed them, with his slogan “acche din ayange” and they saluted him with an overwhelming verdict in his favor.
The Modi campaign Strategy has indeed borrowed heavily from the Obama Campaign Strategy – Primarily it was designed to be presidential in its approach, where his personality, his charisma and his track record was highlighted over that of his rivals. From the clothes he wore, to the speeches (he targeted local issues, local and national personalities and the future) he made at rallies across various cities, the interviews, the tweets and the like were choreographed so well that television channels were vying to record his presence over the others to raise their trp’s adding value to an already extremely well crafted campaign.
In 2008, Obama inherited similar national conditions from his predecessor George Bush. The American Economy was in shambles, its troops were stuck in a no win situation abroad, immigration, employment and healthcare were major domestic issues – Consequently his message – Hope, Change and Yes we can. He won the election on the strength of those slogans. What he emphasized was hope, what he delivered over four years was direction, and very few promised outcomes. Yet he was re elected…. Four years down the line, his slogan was “Forward” – He needed time to complete unfinished business. His campaign’s number crunching was outstanding – the various analytics that helped him address various people constituencies across the country – their concerns, their needs, their hopes was relentless in its inputs to his campaign strategy. Winning votes became a psychological game.
Modi’s campaign too, was scripted just as scientifically, based on numbers from previous elections. They targeted 295 constituencies for their 185 Bharat Vijay rallies. The data crunchers helped BJP identify strategic rally venues. “Bharat Vijay is aimed at maximizing and strategizing Modi’s outreach,’’ BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said while announcing the plan. They also helped identify local concerns and needs, the aspirational concerns of the millions of first time voters and the middle class who only wanted a chance to move up the value chain and better delivery of services and most importantly a stronger nation, so that they could hold their head high – when they visited abroad.
The Analytics then scripted the message – Hope combined with the promise of delivery. People now heard what they longed to hear and voted as they yearned to vote – for a person, not a party, for someone who promised well being and a track record that promised delivery. This message resonated well with the people of India; especially the aspirational class of citizens and the affirmations are there for all to see and what is heartening perhaps for India’s future, is that these affirmations overcame all traditional polity divides.