August 28, 2012

Congress Vs BJP: Political Marketing 2002-14


If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed-Adolf Hitler

India’s oldest strongest & most suitable political party is upset. Congress is upset by calumnious propaganda tirade let loose by the principal opposition party BJP. The party takes solace in its domestic & global achievements and expected a pat on the back from citizens as well as opposition parties in India.  

Congress wants BJP to be accepting & approve good work done by Cong & criticize wherever they go wrong.  It is upset over BJP’s frontal attack on the party & its leaders. On its part BJP, a Hindutva supremacist RSS backed organization, is completely consistent in behaving as per its DNA.  Did it walk any differently on the ramp in 2009? Perfect Competition is a Utopian economic concept that envisages that one must continuously keep working to have equilibrium state for level playing field. We live in real the world.

Congress has a convincing case against BJP but it has to do more as it’s not a two horse race. A secular Congress has been secure in the thought that since rightwing BJP is a Hindutva supremacist party therefore a diverse India has no choice but to vote for it. This deduction looks very attractive but is it enough? Now let us examine the fundamental premise of this logical conclusion.  

A Hindutva BJP has no chance of winning against modern secular Congress unless it discredits Congress on some serious secular all encompassing factor.  Well the BJP/RSS strategists got to work in their usual manner, which is to go back into past to discover something that they thought made a lot of sense to Hindutva ideology and then try recreate, rejuvenate & bring back that into present. Essentially dig up something from past to throw at people to embrace it for a better future.

Congress in its present avatar cannot be accused of being tough & undemocratic with state governments-Modi despite serious charges get to keep his job- therefore corruption seemed to be the other original idea for BJP. You would recall in 2004 & 2009 BJP failed to convince citizens that it has ‘strong’ & ‘nationalist’ leaders that can lead India in twenty first century. So the opposition party had no choice but to paint the incumbent party as corrupt.  

BJP cleverly orchestrated campaigns led by organization outside sangh privar to accuse the Congress. Anna, Kejriwal & Ramdev were mounted to launch attacks at the incumbent party to achieve their political objective. BJP plan is simple. Create a bigger specter of corruption to camouflage the demon of racial cultural supremacy so that masses begin to see it as foremost present danger from among various other general threats. It looks fairly simple game plan.

BJP thinks that since Congress led UPA is the incumbent coalition therefore corruption issue could not boomerang on them. Well incumbency in politics also referred to as ‘Winner’s curse’ has been investigated in depth & many papers are available on this premise in political marketing literature. As political marketing student let me say that ‘corruption’ as an election issue in India has limited appeal.

India is land of perennial elections. Elections are so frequent in India that you wonder why not outsource the work to some private corporation to lower the cost. There are large companies conducting test & research activities with six sigma accuracy, they certainly would be able to plan & execute election at much lower cost in these crunch times for governments all across the globe. If the government gets out of business of conducting elections it would bring more transparency & neutrality to the exercise.

Marketing concepts & tools are often used by political players to establish & grow their relationship with citizen voters.  Political players in India are no stranger to use of it. Let me flag some critical marketing issues related to current tug of war in India. BJP has succeeded in getting far higher SOV (share of voice) at present what is has to do now is to achieve similar SOH (share of heart) & SOM (Share of Mind). What the incumbent Congress need to do now?

Congress surely has greater SOH & SOM amongst all segments of India. It needs to recover the lost ground in SOV. But let me caution that it has been established beyond doubt that incumbent party would be better off without winning the race for higher SOV. Congress party should not get carried away by media’s need for 24x7 sensational entertainment and continuously work towards having greater acceptance among elderly & youth segments in India.

India has seen Anna & Ramdev events put up by BJP strategy team and is looking forward to a Congress show of strength outside Parliament to enable the masses to determine the winner.  Congress needs a new social media strategy to counter the opposition media war. A winning strategy should be clearly differentiated one so as to counter the challenger & present your brand equity rather than engage with opponent on their turf & conditions. Congress has to augment its current media strategy.

1 comment:

Sudhanshu Verma said...

"A Hindutva BJP has no chance of winning against modern secular Congress"

"You would recall in 2004 & 2009 BJP failed to convince citizens that it has ‘strong’ & ‘nationalist’ leaders that can lead India in twenty first century."

"A secular Congress has been secure in the thought that since rightwing BJP is a Hindutva supremacist party therefore a diverse India has no choice but to vote for it."

Fact is that a secular BJP can not win against a secular Congress. Hindutva is BJP's only USP, if they wanna win. BJP did not failed to convince citizens that it has ‘strong’ & ‘nationalist’ leaders that can lead India in twenty first century, but they failed 'coz they changed their ideology and presented themselves as the nationalist and development oriented party, rather than right wing Hindu party. If you go back and do a discourse analysis of BJP in 90's when they won the elections (when Modi was part of the election committee and made strategies) BJP strongly focused on Ayodhya and Congress could not beat them. Then came 2004 elections and BJP did the "India Shining" and failed... and so in 2009 (lack of any clear ideology) Show me the religious discourse by BJP in 2004 & 2009 elections (When Modi was CM and was out of BJP work) I will accept your argument that it failed on Hindutva.

BJP can only come to power with its Hindu ideology and rural India will still vote for religion and caste and community. Modi has proven this since late 80's over and over again and if they stick to Hindu discourse, they will get vote in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Utrakhand, MP, Maharashtra, Gujarat and even Haryana & Punjab. This is more than enough to win majority in the house. In reality, the victory in the old state (unbroken) of UP and Bihar was more than enough to be the largest party in the parliament. You do not need to convince the whole country to rule Delhi, one of the reasons, most of the PMs in our country came from North India.

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