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Polls 2014

Master of the Medium


When it comes to new styles of political campaigning, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is in a class by himself
ANIL PANDEY | Issue Dated: March 2, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Congress | Narendra Modi | BJP | Atal Behari Vajpayee |

Like its arch rival Congress, the BJP too has turned into a personality-based party. Like the Congress campaign which centres on Rahul Gandhi, the BJP poll exertions are aimed at projecting Narendra Modi as their poster boy leaving the likes of popular Atal Behari Vajpayee and quintessential organisation man LK Advani far behind.

As compared to the Congress, the BJP efforts this time are more cogent and powerful. The Gujarat chief minister is using every trick in the book, from hitting the road to leading potential voters into the party’s ‘virtual world’.

It is for this reason that Modi has addressed close to 50 well attended rallies in the country in the last six months or so and can be considered well ahead of main rival Rahul Gandhi. In the electronic world of social media, Modi is ahead of Rahul and seriously emerging challenger Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal.
BJP at this movement is totally under the grip of NaMo fever; Modi is the principal planner, his ideas are considered final. Plans are made in Ahmedabad and implemented in Delhi; such is his unchallenged clout in the party. Says a senior BJP leader: “Modi is taking the help of media specialists whose expertise is publicity.The entire campaign is being plotted by Modi and his core campaign team.

With an ace campaigner like Modi, the medium of publicity is merely incidental: whether it is traditional forms of campaigns or high tech poll gimmicks, he remains the master of the medium. Not just that, even his rivals are left with no option but to imitate his tactics during their respective poll campaigns.

While all out efforts have been launched to make Rahul Gandhi a brand now that the polls are a few months away, three months ago Modi had already re-launched himself in two popular programmes, ‘run for unity’ and ‘statue for unity’. When he launched the ‘statue for unity’, the world’s tallest statue of India’s original ironman Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, he managed to strike a chord with a large population in the country which believes that the great architect of India’s unity has not got his due in the frenzy to hero worship the Gandhi family.

Modi is convinced that Vallabh Bhai who entered public life through farmer politics, will mean a lot for 70 percent of India which still remains overwhelmingly rural. To that end, the BJP prime ministerial hopeful plans to collect agricultural implements from remote villages. In the process he and the BJP hope to strike an immediate rapport with rural India and its most powrful constituent, the farmers.

Modi’s other pet project, ‘run for unity’ too has found supporters in the large youth vote that may have a big bearing on the final poll outcome. The party gained favourable mileage through both these events in December last year.

The other main focus of Modi’s campaign has been public meetings; a well attended public meet helps to change the atmosphere in a party’s favour, persuade the uncommitted voter to come out and cast his or her vote on election day and galvanise the ordinary worker to give their best when it matters the most. Modi has so far emerged triumphant on all these counts.

Cashing on his ‘chai wala’ (tea seller) image – thanks to some uncalled for utterances by the likes of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar – Modi has taken the tea route. Beginning on February 12, a catchy series entitled ‘chai par charcha Modi ke sang’ (a discussion with Modi over tea) is likely to be staged in 300 cities and towns in 27 states. As per this programme, between 6 to 8 pm, party leaders will take questions over video conferencing at select tea stalls.

Modi himself led this charge in Ahmedabad when he answered questions from about 1,000 persons from 300 towns. Says senior party leader Sushma Swaraj: “This is a unique way to connect to the people. This attempt by a political party to reach out to so many people at one go in unprecedented in electoral politics anywhere.’’

Social media, the current driving engine in public life, has long been a BJP favourite, much before Arvind Kejriwal realized its benefits and used to deadly effect in the Delhi assembly elections. Months before the Congress woke up to the advantages of social media Modi has taken a head lead over his main rivals.

According to Facebook figures, Modi is ranked number three in the world and the first in India when it comes to accumulating ‘likes’. Only US President Barack Obama and Republican Party leader Mitt Romney are ahead of Modi. Interestingly, while Kejriwal has 42,46,902 likes, Rahul has 1,08,682. By way of contrast, Modi dwarfs them both with 1,03,76,127 likes.

By all available accounts, Modi is not just popular in India but abroad as well. Of his Facebook users, 93,12,433 are in India while 10,34,134 are foreigners. Interestingly, Modi is ranked ninth in twitter popularity. Elections after all are a battle and in this, Modi appears way ahead of his rivals, at least for now.

  Modi way ahead

The Gujarat chief minister has been a path breaker as far as new campaign style is concerned. Anil Pandey reports

Narendra Modi has to be the most tech-savvy politician in the country. Not only is he adept at using the internet to his advantage, he believes in making full use of technology for purposes of election campaigning.

In fact, his presentations are ostentatious enough to rival a Bollywood set. During the Gujarat poll campaign, he used 3D to deadly affect. To spread his ideas far and wide, Modi has effectively used Google Plus and virtually all other media sites to spread the good word and broad base his campaign.

The BJP candidate’s other tactic of using Modi masks too was a big hit in Gujarat. Soon enough, a number of his followers took a fancy to this eye catching stunt and it has paid political dividends. Well known American company Apco Worldwide is the prime mover behind the Modi campaign. The idea to use 3D has come from this company as has the idea to project the Gujarat strongman as a development model. The same company had helped Barack Obama during his first election campaign.


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017