Millennium Post

Election’s key message

A drowning man said to clutch at a straw; so are the visceral haters of Narendra Modi and BJP clutching at the spectacular but much anticipated success of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi. By harping on AAP emergence they apply the balm on their feelings to conclude that the Modi effect would not work in the general election 2014.

While this might soothe some disturbed nerves the facts indicate a completely different picture. Ashok Gehlot, the vanquished chief minister of Rajasthan, had no qualms in accepting it. He admitted that Modi factor caused the landslide for BJP in his state. But why did the Narendra Modi factor work? Jyotiraditya Scindia, the important young leader and minister of Congress provided the answer. ‘Communication is the key to any election, at any level’, said Scindia. The unavoidable conclusion is that Modi has communicated better than others in the recently-concluded assembly elections.

What are the messages the electorates delivered? First and most clear message is for the Congress and its two most prominent leaders, the mother and son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The people of all hues are not swayed by their ‘charisma’. The rub off effect of this dislike has seen the drubbing of Congress candidates in all the four states. Second,the reason for the anger of electorates is the complete absence of governance of the Manmohan Singh government. Prices are soaring; everyday some corruption cases are hogging the limelight; the harassment of the common men is complete. There was complete aversion of the ordinary people for Congress.

Third and no less key message delivered by the voters is that they are not begging for subsidised schemes but demanding opportunities for earning their livelihoods. Gone are the days when mere promises of sops or even schemes could placate the suffering millions. They now know well enough how much of such money is consumed by the scheme managers – politicians, bureaucrats and ordinary babus. Rahul Gandhi while talking on the benefits of such schemes actually kept on insulting the self-respects of the forgotten millions.

Finally the elitism of Congress campaign and politics received thumbs down from the majority of the electorates. The question is will Congress accept the messages and take corrective steps?
The key messages for the BJP, winner in all these four states, is that the party cannot take its success for granted. Had BJP not anointed Modi as its leader mid course the party, too, would have suffered the anti-incumbency like Congress did. The message is loud and clear in the emergence of Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP. The party had campaigned intensely for over two years beginning from the Jan Lokpal movement of Anna Hazare. Shrewd Kejriwal grabbed the opportunity seen in the restlessness among the urban youth. He occupied the position of opposition denying BJP an opportunity of sweeping the election. The principal opposition party attempted course correction in Delhi just about a month before the election. Without this BJP would have fared poorly in Delhi election.

The other message for BJP came from Chhattisgarh. When in power the government cannot ignore the responsibility of maintaining law and order. Administration must always be alert where Raman Singh government failed. The armed Maobadis cannot be allowed a long rope. Had the state government been watchful it could have averted the ignominy of failing in protecting Congress leaders. The message for BJP is evident. The party cannot hope to activate its political machinery only when election approaches. Political activism is a continuous process. Internal dissension must be quelled at every stage. Leaders must be selected on the basis of their clear image and acceptability to the majority not merely byunanimity among a coterie of the party.Will BJP leadership accept the writing on the wall?

The electorates have delivered a resounding message for the media and its analysts. Howsoever they try, as they did, to harangue Narendra Modi and his leadership the people form their own opinion. In a city like Delhi with overwhelming young migrants as voters media was successful somewhat to propel AAP into reckoning but here also the direct campaign was the decisive influencer. The role of media in forming public opinion has weakened considerably.

This brings us to the issue of instinctive hatred many in media nurture against BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular, the visceral aversion, which made most to assert that Modi factor, did not work. The assertion winks at the fact that Narendra Modi was the star in the BJP show in the four assembly elections. His ability to communicate worked. His stern message to the dissenters from within forced them to tow along the party line. Without such a leadership Delhi would have swept AAP to power. Chhattisgarh was another state where the party was on a weak wicket. The Modi campaign could overcome the weaknesses in these two states and build on the advantages BJP enjoyed in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. If despite that the pundits feel happy to denigrate the role of Narendra Modi in resurgence of BJP they are destined to remain in their fossilized world.
Communication is an art. More than the election victories the Modi effect was seen on the ruling family of Congress. It was unthinkable that after an election loss the Gandhis would address media. They had to do this so bad had been the drubbing coming so close to the 2014 general election. Whether media and pundits accept that there is a Modi-effect or not, the Congress ‘high-command’ had been forced to acknowledge it.

‘We failed to carry our message to the people’, said Sonia Gandhi. Clearly Narendra Modi could do it. That is Modi effect. This is the key message the assembly election has clearly delivered.

The author is a communication consultant
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