SIGNS THAT SHOW BJP IS WORRIED IN GUJARAT

First phase of Gujarat state election is over. The second phase is on 14 December and the results will be out on 18 December. But the chances for the BJP, which has ruled Gujarat since 1995, are not looking so bright this time. There are, in fact, signs that say the BJP may lose the polls this time. Signs, that reflect in pre-poll surveys and trends in election campaign.

PRE-POLL SURVEYS

An opinion poll just days before the first phase of Gujarat assembly election on 9 December projected it to be neck and neck contest between Congress and the BJP. The ABP-Lokniti-CSDS survey projected equal vote share for both parties at 43 per cent. According to the survey, BJP is expected to win 91-99 seats and Congress 78-86.

Though the survey still gives the BJP more seats, when we see it in continuation of its previous pre-election surveys, we can easily see the rising graph of Congress as the campaign is progressing. The same agency in its November survey had predicted 113-121 seats for the BJP and 58-64 for Congress while its August opinion poll had given the BJP even a wider margin projecting 144-152 seats for it against Congress’ 26-32 seats.

Another set of surveys by Times Now also shows a declining graph for the BJP. Its October survey gave the BJP 118-134 seats which came down to 106-116 seats in its December tally. On the other hand, though not much rosy, the Congress pie went up from 49-61 in October to 63-73 in December.

The BJP is facing 22 years of anti-incumbency and to make matters worse this time, there are factors that can derail its juggernaut there, Narendra Modi, demonetisation, GST, atrocities against Dalits and demands of Patel reservation. Narendra Modi is not the chief minister of the state and the CSDS opinion poll showed that the trading class is not happy with demonetisation and GST. And the biggest faces of Patel reservation protests and the movement against Dalit atrocities, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mewani, are with Congress.

DEPLOYMENT OF A LARGE TEAM TO COUNTER ONE PERSON

The BJP has unleashed its full force in the Gujarat campaign. Apart from dozens of union ministers, many chief ministers and senior BJP leaders, Narendra Modi himself has devoted fulltime to the party’s prospects in Gujarat. He is addressing multiple rallies in a day with at least a big rally scheduled in every district of the state. Though Vijay Rupani is Gujarat’s chief minister, the BJP face in the Gujarat polls is no doubt Narendra Modi. And all this is to counter a single face from Congress, Rahul Gandhi, who has been pivot of Congress’ campaign.

RELEASE OF MANIFESTO IN THE 11TH HOUR

The BJP released its manifesto just a day before the first phase of Gujarat state election. Though the party quoted busy campaign schedule and technicalities behind this delay, the truth is, the BJP move came after Congress made it an electoral issue with Rahul Gandhi calling it a disrespect to the people of Gujarat. Congress had released its manifesto on 4 December.

RAHUL GANDHI’S UNORTHODOX MOVES

Two stands taken by Rahul Gandhi stand out here, saying he is a mature politician now and can take his journey as Congress’ president further. First, he had issued a written instruction to his party leaders last month not to launch personal attacks against Narendra Modi, seeing how a long list of below the belt comments by Congress leaders targeting Narendra Modi had hit the party’s electoral prospects, be it Sonia Gandhi’s ‘maut ka saudagar’ (merchant of death) or Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘chaiwala’ or his very own ‘khoon ki dalali’ in last year.

Second, he immediately got Mani Shankar Aiyar suspended from the Congress party for his ‘neech aadmi’ (vile man) comment on Modi saying, “The Congress has a different culture and heritage and I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM and both, the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said.”

While asserting that “the BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party”, Rahul, at the same time, denied the BJP the plausibility of using Congress’ personal attacks on Narendra Modi in its favour. And it is evident from the fact that Aiyar’s ‘neech aadmi’ jibe could not get much echo beyond few rallies.

RELIGION CARD

Rahul Gandhi started his Gujarat election campaign from Dwarka and has visited several temples across the state so far while on the campaign trail. He has declared his family and himself ‘Shiv bhakts’ (devotees of Lord Shiva) and is trying consciously to adopt the Soft Hindutva image to counter the BJP’s Hindutva politics. And it seems he has been successful so far in his attempts.

Otherwise the BJP would not have made Rahul Gandhi’s religion such a big issue, and that too based on a fake news. The BJP went big time saying Rahul was not a Hindu as he signed a non-Hindu visitor’s register during his Somnath Temple visit, a claim which was later refuted by the Somnath Temple trust.

‘DEVELOPMENT IN GUJARAT’ NARRATIVE MISSING

The BJP initially said its poll plank was all about development in Gujarat, something that would speak for itself. To counter it, Congress mounted a well-lubricated social media campaign focusing on ‘how development in the state had gone crazy’. But one look at BJP campaign speeches and one can easily see the development plank missing from there, something even its ally Shiv Sena pointed out today in its editorial Saamna.

DRAGGING PAKISTAN AND CHINA IN GUJARAT POLLS

The final days of campaigning in Gujarat has seen Narendra Modi and the BJP dragging in the issue of China and Pakistan meddling in Gujarat polls with Narendra Modi going as far as to allege that many including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a secret meeting involving the High Commissioner of Pakistan and an ex-Pakistani minister to discuss the Gujarat election.

There have also been allegations that Mani Shankar Aiyar colluded with Pakistan and even put out a contract to eliminate Narendra Modi. But the issue is not finding much traction as evident from the media coverage of elections. Apart from few news outlets, most of them are desisting from taking any stand on these allegations and counter-allegations.

©SantoshChaubey

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS BEFORE 2019 LOK SABHA POLLS

WILL NARENDRA MODI REMAIN NUMERO UNO?
Like it was in 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it had helped Modi emerge as the only pan-India leader. Manmohan Singh had faded. Rahul Gandhi was not there. And regional satraps were just one-state phenomenon. If Modi had any competition from the regional satraps, it was from within the BJP only.

CAN RAHUL GANDHI BE THERE?
It seems Rahul Gandhi is honestly now trying to reach there, trying to break the image of a reluctant politician that he has carried ever since his initiation into the national politics in the latter half of the last decade. He is looking to break myths and facts around him with and after his US trip. And he is sounding focused.

DEMONETISATION, GST AND PETROLEUM PRICES – WHERE THE ECONOMY WILL GO?
It has been mostly negative developments ever since the demonetisation was announced on November 8 last year – or if we say negatives far outweigh the positives so far, it will be apt – at least the goings at the moment say so.

India is a country of small and middle income people and businesses and demonetisation negatively affected them, even if we go by the logic of the short term pain – because no one can vouch for the long term gains – except some studies including the World Bank’s and Nomura’s projections that have shown faith in an exercise that really proved unimaginable in scale (read confusion here). GST has only added to this pain and (confusion).

The Modi government has been fortunate to reap the windfall benefits of historically low crude oil prices that have helped it mitigate the huge under recoveries of its oil marketing companies. In addition, the government has also filled its coffers with lakhs of crore of Rupees by increasing the excise duty multiple times. It has kept the oil prices high, like these were during Manmohan Singh’s government. BJP had made it a big issue then, in spite of the fact that the crude oil prices were historically high then.

Now Congress and opposition parties are making it an issue and they are right, at least in public perception – and this is all what matters in electoral politics – even if the Modi government has diverted this windfall gain in several infrastructural projects. That BJP is feeling the heat due to all these issues becomes clear from the government action on revising GST structure and hinting that it is now going to pass on the benefits of the low crude oil prices to consumers, finally.

WHAT WEIGHT THE REGIONAL SATRAPS WOULD CARRY?
The regional satraps are still one-state phenomenon. And what goes against them is, the appeal of their parties is also limited to their respective states – SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh – BJD in Odisha – RJD in Bihar – TMC in West Bengal – TRS in Telangana – Left Front in Kerala – and DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

The most important of them, who could have rallied other regional satraps behind him and could have posed a formidable challenge to Modi, Nitish Kumar of JDU in Bihar, is now Modi’s ally, thanks to politics of yore by RJD.

THE ALWAYS ILLUSIVE THIRD FRONT?
India has just few short lived governments third front governments, i.e., of VP Singh, of Chandra Shekhar, of IK Gujral and of HD Deve Gowda, and the alternative third front politics has always been a failure. The basic problem has been – all of them consider themselves to be PM material – so the unity to challenge the main national parties, i.e., first Congress and now Congress and BJP, has always been a misnomer. The maze doesn’t look different even this time.

©SantoshChaubey

THE STORM IN THE CUP OF CHAI GETS MORE OF IT

Chai means many things in many languages, in many cultures. For us Indians, it is an inseparable part of our daily lives, sipping it as and when we feel, sipping it while thinking, sipping it while talking, sipping it while walking. Most of us cannot imagine our life without it.

And like many other important parts our daily life, we had taken Chai for granted as well. We realised we could not live without it yet we didn’t give it its due.

Until Narendra Modi’s Chai idea happened, now being implemented as ‘Chai Pe Charcha’, a full-scale electoral campaign every week intended to connect almost 20 million people same day same time using a mix of advanced and traditional communication technologies.

A mighty communication idea the time of which seems to have arrived, especially after the good response to Modi’s Chai-time-themed campaign!

And it has forced others to take notice; irrespective of which class they come from – the tea-proponents or the Chai-wallahs.

So, after discussing, dismissing and disparaging, even the grand old party of India had to admit the impact of the storm that is brewing in the mighty cup of Chai, and the time spent over it, some of which Narendra Modi is seriously trying to corner in his favour. According to the sources, the party strategists are burning the midnight oil to counter the move.

Some strategists even suggested hitting the support backend of the Chai-making process to prevent the further mobilization of the Chai-time in favour of Narendra Modi and thus the currency of a significant amount of votes in the poll-season.

It seems, inspired by this deep thinking, a youth Congress team in Bhopal came with the uniquely unique idea of establishing milk stalls distributing RaGa Milk in the name of Rahul Gandhi. Another noticeable effort on this line is Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Lalu Chai stalls in Bihar that offers free biscuits as well. Lalu’s Rashtriya Janta Dal is an electoral ally of the Congress party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Whatever be the outcome of this Chai-time strategy on electoral lines, it can ensure at least one probability with certainty – in case of a disappointing electoral fortune, it can be a good enough part-time business opportunity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE INTERESTING, AMUSING THROWAWAYS OF AN INTENSIFYING ELECTION CAMPAIGNING

The intensifying electoral fever is giving us interesting (amusing, funny) throwaways and the pitch is getting louder with every passing day of political fiefdom on its ugly display. It is in perfect harmony with the benchmark of the electoral phase of Indian politics – a hallmark of an insensitive class of politicians.

The electoral pitch has become entertaining enough for those who watch the proceedings of the biggest festival (spectacle) of a democracy – elections – to ‘recruit’ the representatives to work for the common man and so for the country.

And the churning from this display has started throwing away its regular, expected throwaways – the spillage from communication practices being exploited – the leftover from the ideological dump being explored.

Let’s take a look at some of these routine throwaways:

  • The process to render the norms – to speak-up in public following the practices of maintaining even the bare minimum of the probity values – completely irrelevant is well on the way to achieve its pinnacle. Expect it well on the highway of ‘no holds barred’ communication spillage by January 2014.
  • Facts are fast becoming fastidious, the way it happens. The electoral pitch of Indian politics confines facts to the extremes of ‘what is being said from the dais’ only.
  • Such ‘facts’ are producing their effects for the ‘stakeholders’ as desired – the spillover is making the concerned watchers even more studious as these self-made facts are.
  • As has been the cases, as expected, egregious interpretations of such ‘facts’ are already ruling the roost. In the electoral phase of Indian politics, whatever said from the dais is meant to be what the opponents seek to interpret as and exploit further, and so in turn, mutually helping the ‘speaker’ and the ‘interpreter’.

And! The result?

We, by now, have an established channel to have us the regular dose of funny, bluffy and interesting throwaways in the latest event of the Indian electoral process.

One can debate if it is to be termed auspicious or ominous, but for sure, the coming days are going to be full packed houses stuffed with ‘overstuffed’ shots of such facts spoken and their spillovers interpreted, giving us, thus, more than enough moments of sitcoms.

And these elections have one additional, super-special effect to affect the overall process of communication spillage, making things even more watchable, even more readable – the Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi duel – scaling new highs with every rally held.

So! Be hooked!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NARENDRA MODI VS RAHUL GANDHI: ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL –EVOLVING TRENDS – CROWDS AND MEDIA

NARENDRA MODI VS RAHUL GANDHI

War of words – allegations and counter-allegations, politics over even apolitical themes, claims and counter-claims – the free-floating, unrestricted flow of verbal juggernaut is frying up the atmosphere, is ratcheting up the theatrics.

In the series, on a day like this, in the run up to the polls, they both started speaking almost at the same time, but soon, it was Narendra Modi all over, on almost channels of the airwaves, and so in millions of the homes across the country, and so on the countless channels of the social media platforms – the story of two speeches – delivered same day, almost same time – one in Delhi, the other in Patna – on October 27.

For sometime now, Narendra Modi has been the hottest, the most covered, the most talked about, and the most written about one. Rahul Gandhi did receive attention whenever he spoke on public platforms, but he could never match the scale Modi would achieve, rally after rally.

And when it came to the parallels on a day of parallel presence, we found how skewed it had become.

Even if we do no go into the reasons, if we do not dissect the ‘what, why and how’ of Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi on campaigning parameters and communication management practices, we can see easily certain trends well evolved (and clearly visible) by now – of crowds in rallies and of media presence multiplying the presence of the crowds elsewhere – trends that would be giving nightmares to the Congress party strategists – trends that can also harm the Modi-party by injecting a sense of complacency much before it is the time to up the throttle for that final ‘finality’.

Though, in recent times, Rahul, too, has upped his pitch, putting his aggression more on display with each passing rally, he simply fails to match the Narendra Modi blitzkrieg.

Modi’s rallies are witnessing full houses with crowd spilling over in each rally while Rahul’s rallies fail to produce sense of massive (even sizeable) gatherings even if the camera tries to show us so.

What could be the better testimony to it than October 27? In spite of the serial blasts, Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna saw hundreds of thousands coming to listen to him while Rahul had to wait before he began to speak as there were not enough of people.

When it comes to media, it’s Narendra Modi is all over. Rahul does get wide coverage and attention but, on a day, when both were speaking together, it was only Narendra Modi – almost all the TV channels were showing Modi live while Rahul was not even in the side window.

And that tells us the base approach by the media outfits in this Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi duel. Modi has become the prized catch for them in race to earn more eyeballs while Rahul is the routine editorial stuff. For them, Modi is the ultimate ‘eyeball stuff’ of the moment.

Modi’s media appeal can also be gauged from the fact that, though the serial blasts in Patna killed 5 and live bombs were recovered from the venue of Modi’s rally, Gandhi Maidan in Patna, the main news discourse of the day was Modi, the major elements discussed on the day were ‘what Modi said’. Rahul’s speech did not get much attention apart from the routine editorial planning elements.

The Congress party strategists should be worried. (Yes, but, the Bhartiya Janta Party thinkers should not get complacent.)

Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi – it is going to be even more interesting to watch as the Lok Sabha polls near, as the resultant chaos spreads even more.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SAME DAY, SAME TIME: NARENDRA MODI IN PATNA DWARFS RAHUL GANDHI’S (RALLY) IN DELHI

NARENDRA MODI VS RAHUL GANDHI

The campaign heat is going up. It is throwing interesting developments and the frequency is getting more frequent every passing day, as the assembly poll dates in the five states approach closer, as the scramble to score points for the upcoming parliamentary polls get more intensive.

If we talks of campaigning and communication management, it has been a Narendra Modi show overall.

The way political developments are shaping up, it is supposed to be a full-scale Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi blitzkrieg as the campaigning for the General Elections 2014 enters its decisive, final leg in 2014. The process is already on the launch-pad with the assembly polls in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram scheduled to be held in November-December.

Today, we saw first glimpse of it.

Today, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi both had rallies almost at the same time. Narendra Modi’s Hunkaar Rally in Patna, that saw serial bombs blasts in the city, formally unveiled his Bihar leg of campaigning while Rahul’s Delhi rally was more focused at the Delhi assembly election next month.

The comparison was inevitable but soon, it became clear, there was nothing much to compare.

Modi delivered 90 minutes of customized, localized, nationalized and well-improvised show full of punches, that the massive crowd in Patna, the airwaves people and the people hooked to the airwaves, found much more newsworthy and watchable while Rahul’s show was a poor repetition of what he says in almost every election rally, the dull revisionism of attributing all that is good in India to the Congress party.

Eyeballs, insights, analyses – Narendra Modi cornered all, effectively pushing the Rahul Gandhi show to the programming junk of ‘fillers’.

Congress, its strategists, the Team Rahul Gandhi and the heavyweights entrusted to manage public opinion though media need to be wary of it.

They need to think why Narendra Modi’s aggressive style makes him more interesting (and relevant) to listen to while Rahul Gandhi’s aggression mostly draws flak?

The answer is before everyone to see. Much has been written over it. The question is why the Congress party strategists and why Rahul Gandhi himself are not reading the signs?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/