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New Age Techno Strategic Political Communication ~ Indian Politics

  By - Stephen   On 2016-02-10T14:56:00

The 2014 General Elections witnessed a new way of
political campaigning using various technology tools. The campaign model used
in the western countries was tweaked to suit the Indian elections and to
promote Narendra Modi.
  In any
communication, whether it is a political campaign or corporate branding, a
powerful message is sent to the audience through effective media tools, with
the purpose of creating a positive or negative perception. According to S
Narendra, Former Information Advisor to various Prime Ministers of India, it
involves a strong strategy to successfully flight the message to the right
audience through the right media, distinguishing it
  from the competing messages. 

During the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi
March created a strong anti-British sentiment among the people. While Mahatma
Gandhi was undertaking the Salt March in North India, Rajaji simultaneously
undertook a Salt March in the south, to galvanise the entire country.  In both the events, ‘common salt’ was the
message and the ‘March’ was used as a ‘Media’ tool, to communicate the message
to the people. For any successful campaign, the message should relate and
appeal to the audience.  
‘Strategic’ is a key word that represents the most
critical input. A strategy is not very useful without such a critical input, an
input that is a force multiplier. The strategic input can be an investment,
person, alliance, a message, event or a decision.
During this pre-liberalisation period, the radio
and print media were mainly used.  The
ruling party had the opportunity of using the public sector organisations to
promote the achievements of the Government through their advertisements. 

During the first General Elections held in 1952,
Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress Party contested on a symbol of ‘two bullocks
tied to a yoke’ and won massive majority. In the later days, Indira Gandhi used
the ‘Çow and Calf’ symbol and the Janatha Party used ‘a Farmer Within a Wheel’.
These symbols were in themselves powerful messages to connect with  the people and

In 1971, Indira Gandhi used the powerful message ‘Garibi Hatao’ and swept the elections. During
the 1989 elections, VP Singh used the powerful message of the ‘Bofors Scandal’
against Rajiv Gandhi.  BJP used the ‘Ram
Mandir’ issue to increase the tally.

During this period, the political parties used
conventional methods of the print media. 
At that time, only the All India Radio and Doordarshan were the
electronic media available and  mostly
used by ruling party.  Political
campaigns were based on public meetings, personal contact with voters, wall posters,
banners, notices, etc. Cinema, stage dramas, street plays and cut-outs were
used by political parties in the south to promote their philosophies.  MGR, Karunanidhi, Annadurai, NT Ramarao,
Jayalalitha and Raj Kumar emerged from the film industry to acquire political
After the economic liberalisation in 1991, the emergence
of the television (TV) media changed the campaign strategies.  Political parties started owning TV channels
to promote their parties.  In 1993, Sun
TV was started as an entertainment channel with an agenda of promoting the DMK
political party.  Later on, many more parties
started their own channels.
In 1996, the BSP leader, Kanshiram slapped Ashutosh
(now a spokesperson of AAP), then reporter in NDTV, when he was asked some
uncomfortable questions.  That led to the
political parties thinking in terms of engaging professional agencies for
handling the media and appointing spokespersons to engage the media. 
The BJP and the Congress parties began using
Professional Public Relation (PR) Agencies like Good Relations India and Perfect
Relations to handle media relations on their behalf.  After 2004, national parties began using
professional agencies in the states they were ruling (mostly in the north and
the west), for election campaign.
Soon, national parties set up their own Internal
Campaign Managers, to professionally handle the campaign. Arun Nehru (Congress)
Arun Jaitly (BJP), Narendra Modi (BJP), Pramod Mahajan (BJP) and Jairam Ramesh
(Congress) emerged as good campaign managers. 
The 2004 General Elections saw the emergence of
‘theme-based advertisements’.  BJP
heavily campaigned under the theme ‘India Shining’, employing the Advertising
Agency Grey, reportedly spending around Rs.600 crores for the campaign. For the
first time, the Indian Elections witnessed a corporate type of advertisements.
Although the Congress was weak, they used the campaign ‘Aap Ko Kiya Mila’ (What Did You Get).  Although the economy was upbeat and BJP had spent
a huge amount their campaign, they could not form the Government in 2004.  Experts opine that the negative campaign run
by BJP on Sonia Gandhi as a ‘foreigner’ coupled with the ‘India Shining’
campaign of BJP could not win them the elections.  The common voters could not connect with the
‘India Shining’ theme. 
Technology was used only to a limited extent in the
2004 General Elections.   BJP projected
Vajpayee as PM Candidate.  For the first
time in the Indian elections, a candidate was projected as a PM candidate.
After 2004, Political Communication Strategists
emerged in a small way to support individual leaders at the regional
In the 2009 General Elections, both BJP and
Congress  used technology tools like the
social media, SMS / telephone campaign, etc. 
Advani and Dr Manmohan Singh were projected as PM candidates of BJP and
Congress respectively.  BJP was the major
user of technology tools.  BJP lost the
Till 2009, there was no ‘paid media’ concept.  Political parties appointed advertising agencies
to plan and place their advertisements. 
Narendra Modi (BJP) used technology tools like the social
media, 3D hologram, mobile phones, smart phones, etc in Gujarat Assembly Elections
in 2012. 
Political Techno Strategies were used in the 2014
General Elections.   Professionals like
Prashant Kishore supported the BJP campaign. A more professional approach
towards the campaign, like survey, big data analytics, and micro-management of the
campaign through technology were used. 
New technologies like Augmented Reality (QR code) and Virtual Reality
(like hologram) were also used.
The campaign branded Narendra Modi as PM
candidate.  Slogans like ‘Acche Din’ (Good Days/Times) and ‘Aap ki Bar Modi Sarkar‘ (This Time,
It’s Modi’s Government) attracted voters nationwide.  They involved the youth through the social
media.  The campaign was supplemented by
a large number of road shows (public meetings) in different states.  The Congress could not match the technology-driven
campaign of BJP. BJP and its alliance parties won the election with a big
margin, leaving the Congress disappointed.  
The same model was used in other state elections
held subsequently in Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Delhi.  The BJP lost in Delhi and Bihar, indicating
that creating ‘hype’ alone might not be enough to win elections and that it
should be coupled with field work.  This
new type of campaign will be adopted in the 2016 Assembly Elections.  Some of the regional political parties have begun
employing the expertise of professionals for their campaigns.
After 2009, media houses were encouraging
‘sponsored news’ or ‘paid news’ to propagate positive and success stories.  Although the Election Commission and the Press
Council of India have banned the ‘paid news’ concept, excepting a few media
houses, many others have been promoting this concept for earning revenue.  Ironically, the same media houses shout about
‘values and ethics’, while they go about to the extent of publishing/telecasting
sponsored ‘opinion polls’ in favour of one party or the other.
Traditional Vs Modern Campaign

In the traditional campaign, the political leaders
and workers had personal interaction with the voters.  After the introduction of the technology
campaign, personal interactions were lost. 
Since 80% of the voters are not connected with technology tools, traditional
campaign model requires to be supplemented. 
The technology tools are useful for creating a ‘brand image’. 

In the traditional model, the leaders emerged from
the grass root level with knowledge about the nuances of various problems.
Vajpayee, Advani, Karunanidhi, MGR, NTR, Kamaraj, Pranab Kumar Mukherjee,
Narasimha Rao, Bansilal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lallu Prasad Yadav, Mayavati,
Mamta Banerjee and Sharath Pawar are examples of such leaders who had emerged
from the grass root.  But in the
technology model, leaders are emerging from the social media, eg. Arvind
Kejriwal, and Narendra Modi as PM candidate). 

Hype is created through intensive campaigns using
the social media and other technology tools, the projected leader runs the risk
of losing his image when the campaign ceases. In other words, the leaders or the
brand created out of this hype is unable to stand on their own but rely on a
virtual standing.  For this reason, a
fair mix of both traditional and technology strategies is necessary.
Presently, political parties suffer from a bad
culture of hooliganism, rowdyism, etc. 
In future, it is hoped that a balance can be maintained in the political
culture, with the emergence of new-age educated leaders.
By K Srinivasan, Editor in Chief

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Author: Stephen

Stephen is an internationally acclaimed business news journalist with 20 years of experience in the industry. Having worked for some of the most prestigious newspapers, magazines and news organizations, Stephen has become a respected leader in international business news. His writing has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, and Bloomberg. Stephen has also appeared as a commentator on several radio and television programs, including CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV. He is a sought after public speaker, appearing regularly at conferences and industry events to discuss the latest business news. With his wealth of experience, Stephen is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up to date on the latest international business news.

Top Liked Comments:

Augustine Michaud

2023-01-18 03:48

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Elida Ramage

2022-12-26 02:29

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Margarett Howe

2022-11-10 17:44

This was really informative, thanks!

Diego Noren

2022-09-24 07:43

This was a great article, thank you!

Samatha Damron

2022-07-20 02:06

This was so informative, thank you!

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