-Dr C.V. Narasimha Reddi
The stunning victory of Mr Narendra Modi with over 320 seats in the state Assembly of 403 seats, is indeed a Tsunami that no one predicted as the party vote share jumped from just 15% in 2012 to 39.6% in 2017. “This will usher in a big change in the Indian Politics” said Amit Shah.
Three Pronged Strategy
What could be the reason for such a massive mandate? An objective analysis of results and media reports reveal that Mr. Narendra Modi as an icon of the party with Amit Shah Party President as a strategic tactician (action man) evolved a three pronged strategy to win the war of UP elections. It includes: Modi’s ideology and his development schemes; propaganda and communication strategy and the third most important one is grassroots communication through booth level samithies.
Ideology and Performance Indicators
First, the BJP has evolved a content strategy based on its ideology and high performance indicators of welfare schemes. They include:
- Creation of a sectarian division between Hindus and Muslims by not having fielded a single Muslim on the 403 Assembly seats. A sense of loyalty developed by Hindus towards BJP
- BJP’s viewpoint against triple talaq to woo muslim women.
- It is not caste that matters but development said Modi Ji which has broken the caste ridden society of Uttar Pradesh, by highlighting that one needed development, innovation, a new sense of spirit to eradicate poverty and not the old lethargic caste based reservations.
- The Prime Minister address to the nation on demonetisation watched and heard by millions of people created a war resonated so strongly with the poor for establishing an equitable society, who became his captive vote bank. As a result Mr. Modi not only became pro-poor but also anti-corruption crusader. In the process, a type of social coalition has been created comprising the poor, the new middle class, marginalised sections of other backward classes and dalits. This has been a strong point in favour of BJP.
- The B.S.P’s strategy Dalit – Muslim vote bank has been shattered by social coalition.
Along side ideological connotations, the BJP’s election strategy included the achievements of NDA Government’s welfare schemes during the last two years. Among others, the credits of the Government comprise make in India, the concept of ‘Roti Kapda and Makan’ (Food, Clothing and Shelter) for the poor, national policy for farmers, “Phade Bharat Badhe Bharat”, “Aam Aadmi Bhima Yojna”, Prime Minister’s foreign travels that brought ‘Samman’ to India, Skill India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Jan Dhan etc. Other welfare schemes that were included in the strategy cover: the initiation of 52 lakh gas connections to women in UP as well as disbursal of Rs. 20,000 crore loans through the Mudra Bank and opening of three crore Jan Dhan accounts.
If the recent notebandi topped the list of achievements, sending of 104 satellites to space by ISRO in one go became an added value to boost the image of Modi Government.
Multi-media Propaganda Campaign
All these ideological and performance indicators were sold to the electorate more forcefully and effectively through a strong multi-media propaganda campaign. Second part of the election strategy was, therefore, a multi-media communication and propaganda campaign to reach out to the electorate. Media included: interpersonal media, folk arts, mass media – newspapers, radio, TV and social media – facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. The Prime Minister’s speeches in the course of his Man Ki Baath, radio broadcasts, TV news and speeches delivered in India and abroad, election rallies, and his views expressed on the stump made more impact on the voters mind, particularly, those who are exposed to mass media.
GandhiJi’s dress made all the more difference for the people to identify him as a man of the people in the freedom struggle. Similarly, Modi’s dress, overt change in style and his energetic personality – all created an effective veneer around his political style which has added to his vote catching power among all sections of the people including the Dalits.
Among all, Mr. Modi is an excellent orator whose oration with parables not only attracted the attention of the public but also influenced their mindset towards his ideology. One of the strategies has been his punch dialogues such as SP Leader Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi were described as “old furniture”, while BSP leader Mayavathi as “Yesterday’s newspaper”. Amit Shah treated all opponents as “Kasabs” who was executed in terrorists attacks case. Mr. Modi’s speech modulation and body language also projected his personality and influenced the voters. Prime Minister even participated in street shows to reach out to the people at the booth level. Above all, people say that Modi had a better hearing aid to listen to what we call grassroots voice that helped him to evolve his communication strategy.
As a result of his style of speaking and achievements, people praised Mr. Modi calling him honest, clean and “Garibon Ka Messiah”, a symbol of India and immediate cause of the elections that helped his party to win the elections.
Booth Level Samithies
Third, an effective grassroots communication strategy was designed almost in 2014 to reach out to the village voters through booth level samithies. These samithies were constituted at 1.4 Lakh election booths with BJP party workers and RSS pracharaks. In fact, RSS paid a pivotal role at the grass roots. This aspect of strategy was more forceful than the other two strategies. If the second strategy of propaganda was through mass media, public meetings and rallies, the third strategy was based on two step – flow of communication – Modi’s message first reached booth level samithi members through mass media in the first step and in turn these members of booth level samithies reached every household in the village, town or city to carry the messages of Mr. Modi. House hold communication was yet another feature of the election campaign in which messages of MR Modi were humanized and personalised to influence the mindset of the voters.
India was ruled by foreigners for about 1000 years of which Muslims ruled for 600 years including the Mughals. A dichotomy surfaces in the recent election campaign of BJP that if “Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikas”, was the BJP’s election campaign in 2014 while the winning BJP consciously excluded Muslims in the 2017 election fray. What message does that send? People ask what will be the future of our secular country? An issue to ponder over.
- Dr. C.V. Narasimha Reddi
- Editor Public Relations Voice
- Former Director Information and Public Relations Department
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