Gujarat Elections: An intense battle in the offing

The ensuing Gujarat Assembly election is significant in its own way. The State has been a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion for over two decades now and is the home ground of Narendra Modi. So, Gujarat is a prestige battle for the BJP and they would like to win again.
At the same time, the Indian National Congress (INC) would like to reclaim its lost ground of two decades. This is going to be an intense battle of prestige and survival. On one hand, losing Gujarat to INC would be a big setback for the BJP ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections. On the other, a victory for the BJP will ease its path towards winning the 2019 parliamentary election.

Ground in Gujarat
It is important to understand the history to predict the future. In Gujarat, the INC has been out of power since 1995. However, for a brief period from October 1996 to March 1998, it was a part of the ruling alliance along with Shankersinh Vaghela’s Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he floated after quitting the BJP. This was the last time the INC was part of the government in the State.

The BJP has been in power since March 1998 but more importantly, the party has been dominating the Assembly since 1995. In the last two decades, it has been consolidating its position. The last two Assembly elections have been the extension of its growth story. In the 2007 and 2012 Assembly elections, it polled 49.1% and 47.9% votes respectively. During the same period, the INC attracted 38% and 38.8% votes.

In last two decades, the popularity of the two national parties – BJP and INC — has been on the rise in Gujarat. In fact, the State election has turned into a two-party contest. The two together command roughly 90% vote share, leaving the remaining 10% to other national and regional parties. It will not be wrong to say that over the last two decades all other national and regional parties have lost relevance in the State.

New Challengers
But this election may see the entry of three national and regional parties – Aam Aadmi Party, Nationalist Congress Party and Vaghela’s party. Among these three, AAP could pose a challenge, especially owing to its new campaign methods. The party has learnt from the debacle of Punjab and Goa elections and will field candidates only on seats that meet certain criteria set by its central leadership.

The NCP will play the role of the spoiler for the INC by dividing the anti-BJP vote share and making the task difficult for the INC. The party has decided to contest all the 182 seats, which means it will spoil the chances of revival of the Congress.

Vaghela’s party will also be another spoiler. Till recently, Vaghela was a member of the INC and the tallest Thakur leader. During his leadership, the Thakurs voted mostly in favour of the INC. In the last Assembly elections in north Gujarat, the BJP won 13 of the 27 seats, while the INC raised its tally from 6 to 14. The exit of Vaghela from the INC will damage its prospect in this area.

Two Together
Though the entry of these three parties will have some impact, in all probability the battle of Gujarat will be mainly between the INC and the BJP. The INC marginally increased its vote share here from 32.9% in 1995 to 38.9% in 2012. In the last three Assembly elections, the INC attracted 39% vote share on an average.

The BJP, however, has been doing extremely well. The overall vote share of the BJP has been on the rise since 1995. It reached around 49% under the leadership of Modi. The party attracted 48-49% vote share during the last three Assembly elections.

Thus, there is a difference of 10 percentage points in vote share between the ruling party and the opposition. This difference is also a function of the urban and rural divide.

Clear Divide
The INC has been successful in consolidating the rural vote bank but has failed to entice the urban voters. The same is reflected in the recent local body elections where it consolidated its stand in the panchayats but failed to gain grounds among urban voters.

In the recent panchayat elections, the INC won 23 of the 31 district panchayats and 113 of the 193 panchayats but the BJP won all the big municipal corporations, namely – Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar — and also captured 40 of the 56 municipal corporations in small towns.

The mathematics of panchayat and municipal elections suggests that the INC is far from winning Gujarat. In the Assembly of 182, the BJP still commands 67 urban and 20 semi-urban Assembly seats.

It will not be wrong to say that the BJP has been an urban and semi-urban phenomenon. The same is also reflected in the last Assembly elections. In 2012, the party won 15 of the 16 seats in Surat, 15 (17) seats in Ahmedabad, 3 of the 4 seats in Rajkot and all the seats in Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Bhavnagar.



Who Moved My Leaders

Congress has been a party of charismatic leaders. Leaders who enjoyed ‘Demi God’ status. The charisma of these national or regional leaders was unparallel. The history of Indian National Congress is testimony to larger than life leaders like Mahatama Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Indira Gandhi and others who in their times enjoyed the Demi God status.

One can argue that those were the golden days of past and they have not experienced the charisma and following of those ‘Demi Gods’. Yes, most of us may have not witnessed the mass following and charismatic leadership qualities of the tallest leaders of Congress but probably most of us have witnessed or are witnessing the rise and popularity of leaders like Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, PV Narasimha Rao, and many others contemporary leaders.

It will not be wrong to say that leaders and their following has been the strength of Congress. These leaders who enjoyed larger than life image and mass following have not only built the party – Indian National Congress but in last few decades have been instrumental in formation of many regional parties. We have
witnessed the emergence of a few strong regional parties like TMC, NCP, YSRCP and others. The founders of these party were once strong Congress leaders. The leaders like Mamta Banarjee, Sharad Pawar, Jagan Mohan Reddy who once were the leaders of Congress but now they have their own regional parties. The reality of these leaders remains unchanged! They at core are still Congressi.

Congress unlike BJP which is karyakarta based party always believed in building strong leadership. Congress has always been a top-heavy party and BJP with the support of RSS is a karykarta based party. It will not be wrong to say that both national parties have their own unique strengths and that is the core of the respective parties.

Coming back to Congress, it will only be correct to say that Congress has been a party of great leaders who were or are known for the mass connect. On the one hand, BJP in absence of huge mass leaders who have attained ‘Demi God’ status have started to piggyback on few of the Demi Gods from Congress. BJP is trying to hijack the credentials of leaders like Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, and others for their branding. We all will agree that BJP in recent past have extensively used the Demi God status of Mahatma Gandhi, and Sardar Patel for their benefits. One may argue that national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, and Sardar Patel are beyond boundaries of party politics but the fact remains unchanged that they were leaders of Indian National Congress. On the other hand, there is sustained propaganda to malign the brand image of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi and others.

This is a critical case of destroying the core of Congress – ‘Asset as Leadership’. The congress needs a swift action to protect it’s ‘Asset as Leadership’ before it’s too late.




Who Moved My (Dalit) Voters!

Dalits in India are one of the largest voting block. The sumtotal of all dalit voters is more than one-fourth of overall voters. The fact that they are the largest voting block makes them the most important voting class.

Dalits have traditionaly aligned themselves with the Congress ideology. It will not be wrong to say that dalits were and still are one of the largest vote bank for congress.

The dalit vote bank started to deflect from congress roughly three decades back. This major change in the indian politics started when various small and niche parties like BSP, LJP, and others identified the fact that Dalits are one of the largest vote bank and started focusing on Dalits. This resulted into a sharp division of dalit vote bank between the congress and other niche parties.

The dynamics of dalit vote bank changed once again when BJP started focusing on the largest voters block – Dalits. It will not be wrong to say that till recently, BJP was not in the game of Dalit Vote Bank Politics but a few intelligent moves by Shah and Modi has divided the vote bank further more into the Congress, niche parties and BJP.

The various Pro-Dalit moves by BJP has helped it win a small segment of key Dalit vote bank. It can be seen as a big challenge to the dalit vote bank dominance by all niche parties, and Congress. The biggest blow was seen in the last UP election when a small shift in a dalit vote bank had made BSP absolutely irrelevant.

The impact of this change is not only seen on ground but also has changed the evolving political equation – ‘Mahagadbandhan’. It will not be wrong to say that the chang in dalit vote bank has forced Nitish to shift sides. Nitish realised that this new Pro-Dalit and Pro-Poor narrative will wipe out JDU in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the way it wiped out Mayawati and BSP in 2017 UP Assembly Election.

The small regional parties like JDU, LJP, and others are realizing that the Opposition has not been able to build any credible narrative around the Pro-Dalit and Pro-Poor plank. They are not even in position to unite and nurture the basic Pro-Dalit and Pro-Poor narrative.
Thus, rather than becoming irrelevant to politics it is better to align with the winning team. Congress needs to act on Pro-Dalit and Pro-Poor, and they need to act now!

It will not be wrong to say that if Congress can unite Dalit vote bank they will not only win the overall vote share but also will be in position to unite Opposition. The task is not tough as dalits were one of the largest vote bank of Congress and still it is the largest support base for Congress. All that congress needs to do is reunite them back into one single block.




Dynamics of MahaGadbandhan

Indira Gandhi has been one of the finest Prime Ministers Indian democracy has experienced. She with the help of all her populist moves like nationalization of banks, Pokhran nuclear explosion, abolishment of privy purses, Garibi Hatao, division of Pakistan attained the status which was larger than life.

That was the time when politics was not about the Congress and others, it was the time when politics was about Indira and all other parties. Indira was beyond party lines and carried huge brand image. Indira was such a strong leader that Dev Kant Barooah, Congress president, in 1976 mention that India is Indira, and Indira is India.

Almost after forty years, history is kind of repeating itself. This time it is about Narendra Damodardas Modi. Modi has yet not reached the popularity that Indira enjoyed but we can easily say that BJP is Modi, and Modi is BJP.

Today, the politics in India is about the might of Modi versus all others. It will be wrong to say that it is about BJP and all others. Yes, the scenario is almost comparable to the times of Indira Gandhi when she enjoyed popularity beyond comparison.

All opposition parties understand the situation very well. They also understand the influence Modi enjoys. They are aware of the fact that the position which Modi enjoys is not given to him but he has earned it at every stage of his political career. It will not be wrong to say that Modi is Chandragupta Maurya of modern times.

The opposition understands that to fight Modi they need to construct a united front – a MahaGadbandhan of all opposition parties. The kind of MahaGadbandhan Opposition had created in Bihar. The MahaGadbandhan in Bihar enjoyed a larger and inclusive vote share. A vote share which was much larger than the vote share of BJP. Nitish Kumar as a prominent face of the MahaGadbandhan was yet another key feature of the MahaGadbandhan in Bihar. The only thing which was not right with the MahaGadbandhan in Bihar was the ideological mix. It remained an opportunistic alliance.

The success of the MahaGadbandhan was once again attempted in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, but the experiment failed. It was seen as absolute opportunistic alliance with has no future. To my mind the MahaGadbandhan was a failure from idea to implementation. It was more like a desperate measure to tame the juggernaut Modi.

The two recent experiments with MahaGadbandhan in recent times and such other historical moves in seventies and nineties makes us think on the idea of MahaGadbandhan and its validity. A few questions that comes to my mind include: Is MahaGadbandhan of all opposition parties possible? Can the MahaGadbandhan survive the test of the time? Can the leaders of MahaGadbandhan workout a common minimum program that is beyond the idea of secularism? Will there be any defined ideology of the MahaGadbandhan? Can the leaders of different political parties elect one credible leader of the MahaGadbandhan? Who will be the ultimate leader of the MahaGadbandhan?

In current situation, even if we have affirmative answers to most of the above-mentioned questions the future of MahaGadbandhan still looks not so bright. The non-BJP parties can be classified in three categories. The Core Opposition, the Ideology Seeker, and Strong BJP allies.

The core group which is ready to form MahaGadbandhan and is promoting idea of an alliance which is secular in nature. They promote themselves as a secular force against the communal BJP. The core group includes INC, NC, IUML, JDS, NCP, SP, BSP, TMC, DMK, AAP, RLD, RJD, Left. If we evaluate the vote share and the probable seat share we would realize that at present they command roughly 100 seats.

The second major group which is not clear with the idea of the MahaGadbandhan but may join the group if the alliance offers attractive opportunity. They mostly have not bought the idea of the secular alliance and mostly awaiting the right ideological mix. In my views, the other set of parties that do not believe in the idea of a MahaGadbandhan based on the idea of a secular alliance include JDU, TDP, AIADMK, YRSC, TRS, BJD, SS, MNS. This group though is wary of the increasing might of Modi and the dominance of his brand of politics. This group has control on another 100 parliamentary constituencies.

Even if the Core Opposition, and the Ideology Seeker join hands they might win a few more than the 200 parliamentary constituencies. The number still will not be sufficient to for the government. They might project themselves as the alliance that will be the united opposition.  I can say with certain assurance that the third set which is part of the NDA core group and the key BJP allies is very prominent and far from the impact of anti-incumbency. This group is still gaining ground and increasing its vote share. The key BJP allies have mostly accepted the dominance of Modi and his brand of politics include LJP, SAD, AD, and other smaller parties. These parties are thriving on the local leadership and the charisma of the brand Modi. These parties are kind of extension of BJP political-DNA. I will not be surprised if some of these small parties get merged into BJP before 2019 elections and a new set of the ideology seekers join NDA.

The dynamics of politics in India is evolving and it is beyond the binary equations of the secular and communal. The new equation is extremely complex and probably beyond the dynamics of caste, and religion. I am not sure if the key players of the proposed mahaGadbandhan are analysing the emerging political equation and its impact.



India Needs Strong Opposition

India has strong government in the center and we need needs equally strong opposition. The desire of strong opposition is just not my views or wish of millions of the politically active Indian but also the National General Secretary of BJP Ram Madhav also believe the same. Even ruling party demands a strong opposition.

Unfortunately, there is no strong opposition at center. There is no single party or an alliance which can counter the moves of the ruling party as a cohesive unit with an articulated narrative. Ram Madhav, also argues that for any Mahagathbandhan to succeed or to be taken seriously, need to have a coherent narrative. The coherent narrative is missing as each party of the so-called opposition has their own hidden agenda; they don’t have any defined plan or ideology; and the opposition don’t have a defined strong leader.

It is important to understand that strong opposition doesn’t mean only numbers, a strong opposition party should act like a watchdog. They should be in position to command the respect of people and the party in power. They should be in position to argument well with positive in disagreement.

I believe that it is not necessary that congress should emerge as the largest and strongest party of opposition. One of the strong regional parties with strong leadership and national ambition can also emerge as the party of opposition at center. Though there is opportunity for a regional party like Samajwadi Party, or Aam Admi Party to emerge as the option to be the party of opposition, but it also requires leadership to have focus to achieve the position. As of now, in absence of any such alternative, congress becomes the defacto option of opposition party.

The age-old party Congress needs to start from scratch. It has to be a new beginning; this beginning can be independent of the Gandhis. The new age leaders of Congress would need a new approach, new leadership, new ideology, and contemporary agenda. Most of the political analyst believe that if congress need to emerge as the party of opposition, it needs to rework on the leadership, ideology, and reposition the brand congress from scratch.

It is important for congress to reinvent the party as it is fast losing the political ground, and voters confidence. Its ironical that congress as a party has been reduced to the politics of vote bank. The decline of the congress is witnessed from the results of recent assembly elections, and most of the local body elections results has shown that the Congress has been virtually decimated by the BJP. The decline of congress is apparent form the result of the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election where, congress managed to win seven seats, which is even lower than BJP ally Apna Dal’s which won nine seats. As we are witnessing the decline of congress and many other regional parties across India, we are also witnessing rise in the vote share of BJP in all the states where it has no presence, or limited presence. The decline in the importance of regional parties, and loosing grip of congress across India has created a scenario where we are not witnessing constructive opposition. It will not be wrong to say that we are back to the era of spineless opposition. The only difference is this time the opposition is congress and other regional parties.

In my views, the gradual decimation of congress from Indian politics is bad news for India and the idea of Indian democracy. Congress need to focus on the constructive opposition and argue around issues which are non-religious, beyond caste and regionalism, issues that talks of development, corruption, women security, terrorism, intolerance, riots, etc. I believe that this is the time for the opposition to unite and restructure. It is time to re-work on the ideology, and reposition themselves.



Promoting Brand Arvind Kejriwal Through Social Media

Arvind Kejriwal is a quick learner, he initially copied the BJP’s game of social media and politics and taught them how it should be done. Arvind Kejriwal and AAP used all possible social media channels and just not Facebook and Twitter. AAP also used Quora for answering questions, Mango App for broadcasting speeches and messages and YouTube channel like TVF.

Arvind Kejriwal also managed to create an impression of a brand which shares every possible detail with its audience. He chose to use social media to communicate with his audience. The website of Aam Aadmi Party clearly highlights details of every funding they receive, doesn’t matter how small the amount is. This level of transparency and honesty helped AAP in winning the trust of people. AAP with its image of honest and transparent party managed to attract huge followers with a mere funding of INR 20 crores. These followers were just not following various Facebook and twitter accounts but were active and engaged. It will not be wrong to say that they were active digital volunteers for the party.

Arvind Kejriwal was successful in transitioning the followers of Anna’s movement to AAP supporters. This transition helped Arvind Kejriwal in developing a strong brand and huge political following. A small investment on the social media helped AAP and Arvind kejriwal win huge engaged followers base on Facebook and Twitter.  This was also possible because of the correct communication strategy used by team AAP and Arvind kejriwal.

It is very important for any successful personal brand to understand that they need to communicate with their audience in the language of the audience, at the medium of audiences’ choice. If it’s not managed well the whole communication plan will be of no use. Arvind Kejriwal, from the very beginning clearly understood the pain points of the masses and in his every communication he touched the pain point effectively. The success of Arvind Kejriwal’s communication strategy can be seen in the social media engagement score. In general, the success on social media is measured by the number of followers or likes, but Arvind Kejriwal clearly proved that people engagement is actually the true measure of success.

The good thing that happened for the Arvind Kejriwal’s story is building of a brand around the story of ‘Power of Common Man’. As common man started trusting and associating with the leader they genuinely followed him and started engaging with him on social media platforms. The followers or likes were not bought by running promotional campaigns. These followers or likes were genuine advocates of brand Arvind Kejriwal.

Arvnd Kejriwal and AAP took the engagement to the next level for the voters of Delhi. They launched a page called Delhi Dialogue for the voters of the Delhi.  The voters of Delhi could share their views on governance in Delhi, facilities they want, issues they face, solution they seek, etc. The major views from the voters of Delhi, were taken into consideration while writing the AAP’s election manifesto.  The voters of Delhi loved the Manifesto as they saw their views were captured in it.  This was yet another classic success of engaging voters on social media and making them feel they are part of decision making.

Arvind Kejriwal’s popularity and positive image nosedived after he joined hands with congress to form his first government, and walked out of the government in 49 days. He was criticised by established political parties and was shamed by calling politics of ‘shoot and scoot’, ‘hit and run’, ‘name and shame’. Arvind Kejriwal’s guerrilla tactics have shaken the political class when he decided to renew his campaign by offering a sincere apology to people through his Facebook and Twitter pages. The apologies note was widely shared and retweeted. This apology note helped Arvind and AAP come back in the race. The script – ‘Power of Common Man’ worked once again.  The voters were shown the human and honest side of the politician, which they had not expected from any political leader. This social experiment on social media worked well for Arvind Kejriwal proving that social media and politics go hand in hand.

Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP openly declared war against the other parties on social media. They used Twitter hashtags as weapons. The classic example is the #mufflerman hashtag which was created by opposition to mock Arvind was used effectively by the social media team of AAP to put pro-AAP tweets and turned into a weapon which trended for over 14 days.

AAP kept a close watch on the voter sentiments through social media & other means & continuously modified their campaign tactics and strategy thereby running a very cost effective campaign against well-funded campaigns of the BJP.

The other major social media communication success was sentiment analysis for studying thousands of Twitter and Facebook accounts of AAP followers, BJP followers and Neutrals to politics.  This exercise helped Arvind Kejriwal keep the tone of messaging right. It also helped them in modifying the communication as and when needed.

The social media sentiment analysis helped them understand the groundswell and develop positive and pro-party messaging. The message also worked well as they were not mocking messaging or hate politics messaging. The communication was loved by people because voters were getting what they wanted.

Arvind Kejriwal, the front man of AAP, made it clear in every communication that if they find their team members indulging in corruption they would straight away cancel his/her election ticket. And, such incidents did happen when people reported to AAP authorities that some of their candidates are corrupt, and in the response, AAP cancelled their assembly tickets



Modi’s Brand Ambassadors in Uttar Pradesh

Today we will witness history in making when BJP Hardliner Hindutva leader, Yogi Adityanath will take oath as head of state. He would head first BJP government in Uttar Pradesh in 15 years.

The 44-year-old saffron-clad Yogi of the Gorakhpur mutth is a firebrand hindu leader.

It is told that Five-term MP from Gorakhpur and a hardline Hindutva leader Adityanath was a unanimous choice of the party’s 312 MLAs and that Adityanath himself asked for the two deputies – Keshav Prasad Maurya, and Dinesh Sharma.

The beauty of these three candidates is that none of them incidentally is an elected member of the UP Assembly. They represent three different strong caste base in UP – OBC, Brahmins, and Thakurs.

I see this as master stroke by Modi and Amit Shah. A precursor to 2019 election. The team UP is the brand ambassador of the brand Modi. A statement made bold and clear to the citizens of UP and India. We all will witness rhe impact of the bold decision. The fate of Modi in all future elections will also be based on the decision the team UP makes.

In my views lot is riding on these three individuals – Dinesh Sharma, keshav prasad Morya, and Yogi Adiyanath.

Dinesh Sharma has been Lucknow Mayor, wonderful organization builder and administrator. He is a professor in the commerce department at University of Lucknow.

It is said that He is a sincere and quiet worker. He is also admired by both Hindus and Muslims in the state capital. He is probably the only soft-spoken, friendly, good-natured face among the leadership.

He is Brahmin face of the UP government. UP is, probably, the only state in India where Brahmins have vote share in double digits. The Brahmins vote share in UP is excess of 12 percent and this move to my knowledge is to consolidate the Brahmin vote bank.

Keshav Prasad Maurya, BJP state chief, is relatively young, energetic, and organization builder. He is also RSS karyakarta.

In my views appointment of a RSS karykarta as deputy CM will send a positive message to RSS cadre. The cadre with this move will feel happy, hopeful and engaged.

It is also said that Maurya was once a chaiwallah and a newspaper vendor before he joined the RSS. He just not come from the humble background but also is the face of OBC in UP which collectively controls 40 percent vote share. Maurya as deputy CM will also make the OBCs of the UP happy and hopeful.

Yogi Adityanath is Hardliner Hindutva leader, and is known for his strong pro-Hindu views. The Yogi is mathematics graduate, which probably gives us comfort that yogi’s views will not only be just religious but will have some element of analytics and reasoning into it.

He is just 44 and have been elected 5 times as MP from Gorakhpur. He also has image of always approachable and helpful to the citizens of Gorakhpur.

Yogi will help BJP polarize the vote bank and consolidate the hindu votebank. Moreover, he will also help attract the strong SP Yadav vote bank. He will also attract Thakur vote bank.

In my views Yogi with help of Triple-Talak will also attract women Muslim vote bank.

The team UP is designed to win election 2019 as BJP has got itself a Thakur candidate and a strong Hindu face -Adityanath, RSS Pracharak and an OBC candidate – Maurya and a Brahmin face Dinesh Sharma as the face of its government in the state.

These three candidates will help BJP increase vote share in UP but the team have to work hard and demonstrate that they have not deviated from the development agenda. As of now, we can only hope that Team UP will be focused on the development and not on polarizing voters and popular-religious activities.

For all those who don’t believe in team UP, remember we as of now have no other option but to believe what Adityanath promised. He promised to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ agenda, and strive for “good governance”.

I wish UP great governance, and law & order.



Digital Marketing is The Best Medium for Election Campaigns

TV Channels, and newspapers for long have been perceived as strategic for political communications, and for voters’ decision making processes but in recent times, Internet and mobile has changed the dynamics of political communication, political campaigns and party management processes drastically.

In recent times the impact of digital marketing in the political campaigns have also increased as the engagement level of voter on web and mobile devices have increased over years. This change has happened as the smart phones, tablets and laptops have penetrated both, urban and rural space. Moreover, politicians and political parties have experienced that mobile is very effective communication device in the media dark markets. It will not be wrong to say that smartphones, tablets, and laptops are the most important and powerful screen that connects and provides platforms to engage voters and politicians.

In my opinion, politicians and political parties have start seeing traditional media as a mode of entertainment. Moreover, for them it is no more relevant as it used to be a decade back. I am not saying that TV Channels, and newspapers have completely lost its relevance. It is still relevant and help political parties influence voters and form opinion but the relevance of new media such as web presence, blogs, social media, news portals and aggregators, mobile campaign, influencers engagement, bloggers outreach program has increased.

Traditional media is not seen as the preferred tool to win voters and serve the purpose of politicians and political parties.

New age media is seen as a rich source of information. Moreover, the digital ecosystem is effectively used to manage and keep voter’s attention. Ubiquitous reach is one of the exciting part of the digital marketing. It has also made it easier for political campaigns to reach target audience at a lesser cost compared to that of traditional marketing and that is why New Age campaigns ‐ digital marketing, mobile marketing, and social media have already become a key communication tool in political strategies. In recent past we have seen major success of online political campaigns be it Obama, Modi, or any other global powerful politician, their success can be attributed to a successful new age campaign.

The success of global leaders like Obama, Trump, Modi, etc. can be attributed to new age campaigns.

The Digital Marketing Journey

The success of global leaders like Obama, Trump, Modi, etc. can be attributed to new age campaigns. The first big digital marketing success was Obama campaign. Though the Obama campaign was first global success the first Indian success of political digital marketing was Modi Campaign.

The Obama campaign became successful not once but twice in a row. In my views, the dynamics of the Obama Campaign was different from the dynamics of the Modi Campaign. The influencing factors viz. geography, demography, internet and mobile penetration were different in both campaigns but one thing which was common in these campaigns were treatment of the campaign. I believe each campaign is different and we need to find our own parameters to influence and engage voters.

The journey of designing a successful new age communication is not easy. For a campaign to be successful, online presence of political party and politician must be thoroughly planned. In my views, and in simple terms, an effective online presence means being where your audience is in the digitally connected world. There are many ways to do this, such as web presence, blogs, social media profiles, social media engagement with influencers and voters, owning and co‐owning content spaces, and interaction on third‐party channels, etc. The effective online presence is not enough to win the game of political digital marketing, but definitely is the first step towards the success of the voters and politicians engagement.

An effective online presence means being where your audience is in the digitally connected world.

It is important to focus on the empowerment of voters. Indian voters now have seamless access to news, and information required to become active participants in the country’s democratic process. Moreover, we are witnessing vibrant and connected voters who are demanding explanations for all the acts of the political party, politicians and government and also advising political parties, politicians and government. It makes engagement with voters the most important element in the political communication. The issue of how to proceed further in order to achieve high level of engagement with the public can be addressed by answering several questions:

  • Is the Political party and Politician ready to engage on the new age media platforms?
  • Are they ready to change with changing media dynamics?
  • Is there a willingness to interact with the public on the new age media platforms?
  • Are they prepared to deal with criticism on the new age media platforms?
  • Do they have time to devote to what is created on the new age media platforms?

At first the answers of the above questions will help digital marketer understand the seriousness of the political party, or candidate towards digital marketing journey. It will also help digital marketer structure the digital marketing campaign based on the level of seriousness and engagement of the political party, or candidate. Once digital marketers have the understanding of the interest level of politicians and political parties in the digital marketing campaign and the level of engagement they want on the digital marketing platforms, designing a successful digital marketing campaign roadmap becomes easy.

Digital natives are the biggest influencers and their interest needs to be taken into consideration when developing digital political campaigns.

The digital marketers also need to understand that there are millions of voters – native digital voters who have developed a certain digital sense that helps them filter information better and faster. Digital natives are the biggest influencers and their interest needs to be taken into consideration when developing digital political campaigns. It is important to monitor behaviour of the digital natives on web, mobile, and social media on real time. The objectives of campaign monitoring initiative can be classified in following activities: Identifying influencers, identifying the voters who are in favour and voters who are against the political party or politician, creating relationships with voters and influencers, managing grassroots mobilization initiatives, crisis management, obtaining insights for content engagement, interaction and engagement with fans and followers, conversations with candidates, politician, and spokesperson of the party, evaluating for strategic information. The campaign monitoring helps us understand the voters’ sentiment and hence helps us design the political communication.

A successful digital marketing campaign can help us identify the individual who will cast vote for the candidate.

The engagement of the voters, social listening, and analysis of their sentiments is most important element in the success of campaign. We all know that digital marketing is mostly engagement driven and provide us with huge data for analytics. The data which we get form the digital marketing campaign can be mapped with historic data on voting habits and other relevant parameters to get sentiment analysis. The result of the sentiment analysis is used to define the course of political communication.

Point of View,Politics


Emerging Trends in Digital Marketing in India

In the last few years we have observed that there is a marked shift in consumer preferences towards digital media consumption as compared to traditional forms of media – television, print press, and radio. Digital media has not only gained importance as preferred choice of media consumption but also has gained on time share. Globally, people are spending more time each day on digital rather than traditional forms of media. Moreover, we have also witnessed that the digital media consumption pattern is also shifting from desktop to laptop and tablet and now to mobile. It will not be wrong to say that we are fast moving towards the mobile lead digital economy.

Global advertising expenditure across all platforms will grow 4.1% in 2016, reaching $537 billion.  – A survey by ZenithOptimedia.

The increasing popularity of digital media has provided for a paradigm shift in the global advertising spends. Marketers are following the changing trend and increasingly allocating their budget to digital mediums – search ads, display ads, social media, email marketing, and others. According to Technavio Market Research global digital advertising spend is growing at a CAGR of around 9 percent. Yet another report from Juniper Research suggest that the digital marketing spend is set to grow to $285billion by 2020. This new numbers suggest that by 2020 the digital spend would nearly double the current estimated spend of $160bn for year 2016.

The growth of digital advertising in India is also attractive and in my views, it has huge unlocked potential. According to the ‘Digital Advertising in India’ report, jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, the online ad market will reach INR 70.44 billion by December 2016. The report also suggest that digital advertising spends is close to 12 per cent of total advertisement spends in India and it is growing at CAGR of 35 percent.

We all understand that this consumption shifts towards digital and social media has impacted customer’s mindset and is forcing advertisers to focus on the new platform – search ads, display ads, social media, email marketing, and others. According to CII-KPMG reports, digital advertising in the country is expected to cross the INR 255 billion mark in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 33.5 per cent.

Digital advertising spends close to 12 per cent of total advertisement spends in India – IAMAI and IMRB International report

In the last few years we have observed that there is a significant increase in content consumption on social media platforms. Much of this digital market’s growth both globally and in India can be attributed to the fact that these platforms are interactive and engaging for users. Since the customer engagement rate of these campaigns is relatively higher than the traditional media, advertisers are rapidly adopting it to increase customer base.

In line with global trends, the Indian consumer is increasingly consuming the content on digital platforms. Over years, increasing internet penetration, mobile device proliferation and availability of language content in all formats has helped fuel the use of digital platforms. The easy availability of mobile devices, improved networks, data connectivity, access to internet, and application development ecosystem has also helped increase the digital consumption as one can consume desired content anytime, anywhere. This growth in internet usages is seen both in rural and urban India. It is observed that social media and entertainment viz. music, and video, games, general search, and emails are the attractions of Indian mobile internet users.

Indian digital advertisement spends outperformed expectations in 2015 and is expected to cross INR 255 billion in 2020, states FICCI-KPMG Report 2016 

In India, the smartphone penetration has changed the digital content consumption behaviour. The content consumption in urban, and rural India is now being driven by smartphones. This has led to increase in mobile advertisement spends which has reflected a significant growth. According to FICCI-KPMG Report 2016, mobile advertising spends in 2015, were estimated to be at INR 9 billion, is now expected to grow at a CAGR of 62.5 percent to reach INR 102.1 billion by 2020.

Digital advertisement spend per capita in India still continues to significantly low in comparison to the top five spenders – U.S., China, Japan, Germany and U.K. According to the current growth assumptions, India is expected to be about 0.6 percent of global digital spend in 2015 indicating significant headroom for growth.

New Media


Making of Brand Arvind Kejriwal

It will not be wrong to say that politics in India is all about mathematics of emotion, and storytelling. We Indians believed in the script – ‘Power of Common Man’. India has witnessed rise of many common men into huge political leaders using the script – ‘Power of Common Man’. There are many mass leaders viz. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mamta Banarjee, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Deve Gowda who have built huge followers base on the story line – ‘Power of Common Man’. The latest in the list is Arvind Kejriwal. Not only he used the story line ‘Power of Common Man’ effectively but he also took the script to the next level.

The success of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal in the Indian politics can be attributed to an anti-congress wave and the fatigue among the middle class with a persistent corruption problem. It was the time when the educated middle class was frustrated as they found themselves politically exploited, fooled and marginalized. Indian voters who always believed in the ‘Power of Common Man’ was witnessing rise of caste-based politics, politics around religious issues, etc. Arvind Kejriwal had make use of the situation to their advantage and created a mass movement against the corruption with help of mass movement India Against Corruption. The anti-corruption movement India Against Corruption became the genesis of political party AAP.

Arvind Kejriwal is a master story teller. He is one who not only scripted the story very well but also executed each part of it with all honesty and sincerity. The story of ‘Power of Common Man’, is no new story for Indian voters, this story was told to Indian voters in the past and this time the story was shared with Indian voters by Arvind Kejriwal. This new story helped Arvind Kejriwal build the brand “Arvind Kejriwal”.

The journey of brand Arvind Kejriwal was not very tough but it was not an easy task either. The first major task for Arvind Kejriwal was to build a strong personal brand and he managed to build a very strong, trusted and approachable political brand. Building a political brand is not an easy task, a politician needs to build a positive image and sustain the image. Arvind kejriwal has been successful in building the brand and here is how the brand Arvind Kejriwal was built. In my views, the key elements which helped build brand Arvind kejriwal include:

Storyline with new twist: Arvind Kejriwal, instead of focusing on one religious group, or caste based politics, or income based classification of vote bank created a new segment of ‘Aam Aadmi’ and promoted it with his anti-corruption stand. This new segment of Aam Aadmi crated a new mathematical equation based on a new emotional connect.

A Brand-New Voter Segment: The targeting of ‘Aam Aadmi’ with clean image enabled him to garner support from every corner of the town. This new vote bank was not about fifteen, twenty, or thirty percent of vote share but possibly every common man could associate himself with this new equation. This change was not about reengineering old equation, it was brand new mathematical equation in the political world.

Party with a Difference: Arvind Kejriwal, has always maintained that he and AAP are different from all other political parties. He maintained one single voice that Arvind Kejriwal and AAP stands for issues of citizenship, governance and accountability and they don’t believe in consumer politics of Congress or majoritarian politics of BJP.

Party has Origin in a Mass Movement: The success of Arvind Kejriwal can also be attributed to the success of India Against Corruption Movement. Arvind Kejriwal from day one has been advertising his party as a movement despite having registered it as a political party.

Symbol Connecting Common Man: The act of connecting with common man can also be seen in the selection of election symbol – Jhaadu (broom). The Jhaadu has been successfully utilized in delivering his anti-corruption message, which was the core of AAP promise.

Anna Topi a Symbol of Trust: A traditional symbol like the Gandhi Topi or Anna Topi which stands for an old world value like social change worked very well in favour of AAP. The power of Anna Topi was successfully adopted by AAP by changing the print on the cap to “Main Aam Admi Hoon” from earlier “Main Bhi Anna”.

Party of Common Man: Arvind Kejriwal also managed to create an image that he is one amongst the voters. He is the common man. Arvind Kejriwal with his middle-class dressing sense with thick muffler, old blue sweater, chappal, et all has managed to create a unique brand image in modern-day politics. The human face of Arvind Kejriwal can also be seen in many of his small and big actions.

Saying Sorry is Humane:  Kejriwal managed to promote a face of common man by accepting his mistake of joining hands with congress, and yet another mistake of resigning as Delhi Chief minister in 49 days.

Kejriwal has kept his promise noble and ethical. AAP’s story is perhaps the simplest of all other contemporary political stories.  Arvind Kejriwal has drafted the AAP Story and his personal branding carefully.