Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Elections: Lessons learned

The recently concluded General Elections have created a history in itself with a lot of firsts thrown in, in its way - the decisive mandate after three decades, the high voters turnout, the high percentage of young voters, etc are some of the pleasant things, apart from the mandate itself. Let us see what are the main lessons learned in this election.

Voters are wise

The minds of the Indian public, the jana gana mana, are among the priciest resources of India. Even with the low literacy rates and absence of a good living for many, still, we're a wise nation, argumentative too.

"We can't be fooled, nor taken for a ride by anyone. We know what's right and what's wrong. There's no reason to put thoughts in our minds. Wisdom prevails and we know what is what."

This means that they know what's secular and what's communal, what's development and what's not what's a scam and what's not etc etc. This election has reinforced beyond doubt the importance of the wisdom of Indian voters. They chose wisely.

Campaigning should be in favor of something, not against something

Congress, along with a large number of people who claim to be the torch bearers of secularism, have been extremely vocal about the communal credentials of the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate. Most of their campaigns was not as much about Congress as it was against Modi. They tried to frighten the people with dire consequences if Modi came to power, telling horror stories about riots and communal violence. The election results proved beyond doubt that the Indian electorate gave a damn to all these. They have rubbished all the claims made my Congress and the secular band wagon. So it's time to scrap this entire discussion of secularism.

People want to hear positive things, not negative. If you want them to vote for you, tell them what you've done and what you'll do for them, not what bad someone else have done or will do to them. BJP had lost the 2009 election, perhaps because of its negative campaigning against Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin. Then also, the campaign was more negative than positive. Congress did exactly the same mistake this time. Strikingly different was BJP's campaign this time. They talked more about the development than the scams of the Congress. Had it talked only about the scams, I'm sure they won't have got this result. Show positiveness - that's the mantra.

Strong and decisive leadership is the need of the hour

There's no doubt that this has been Modi's election. He has run it like a Presidential election where people actually voted for him, rather than BJP. This is a key lesson. People have realized that a strong and decisive leader can make a lot of difference. The total absence of anyone pitched against Modi made his work simpler.

Questions may be asked, if that's the case, then how did Congress win the last two elections? They won the 2004 elections, because, the mass had failed to see the development BJP was talking about and Congress provided an alternative. Vajpayee's decisiveness and strength were in question. Then in 2009, the people didn't see in Advani any remarkable quality which would make him stand apart for the rest. On top of that, the campaign was very much negative. So in 2009, Congress actually didn't win, they were just not removed from power. But in 2014, they were literally decimated due to the lack of a strong and decisive leader.

Communication, communication and communication

Effective communication is the key to success, both in corporate world and politics. The way BJP had reached out to the people of India is indeed a lesson for the corporates too. "Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkaar", the message was very clear. Promises were made, but the key message was always unambiguous, that they have to elect the strong and decisive Modi as their Prime Minister.

On the other hand the message sent out by Congress was very confusing. People were aware of the scams. So when the Congress promos talked about developments, people were indeed skeptical. Had there been a strong leader, people would have had hopes that perhaps this new leader would do things differently.

Also, the various ways the BJP reached out to its people were just unmatched for. Apart from rallies, there were constant promos in media, electronic, print and television/radio, always with the crystal clear message.


Somewhat related to communication, but it's also a key thing which played a significant role. The entire campaign was planned in the lines of promoting a consumer product.

Modi was branded as a strong and decisive leader who would deliver wonders. Every communication carried the same message again and again, harping on the brand Modi repeatedly, till it was etched in the minds of the people. Like Thumps Up - Tastes the thunder, ICICI - Khayal Aap ka, LIC - Life ke saath bhi, life ke baad bhi, Kingfisher - King of good times, Kerala - God's own country, Ab ki baar Modi Sarkaar became the tag line of the campaign. Modi's scripted speeches, his mannerisms, the way he talked, the way be dressed - everything was meticulously planned and everything collectively played a role in creating the brand Modi, someone on which people could rely, someone who would deliver what he has promised, someone who could be trusted.

So much was the impact of Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar, that even small kids who know nothing of politics and Modi started chanting the same. I'm sure most kids were happy when he finally won. That's the impact of branding.

There's no alternative for hard work
Any success, at the end, can't come only with branding. People actually saw the hard work Modi has put during the entire campaign. He attended the most rallies, traveled the maximum distance to reach out to as many people as possible. People saw his dedication, his passion. A leader is always expected to be passionate. With all the hard work and passion, Modi fitted well into the image of a leader.

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