By – Shoumik Shetty
Since the days when political parties bestowed favors on caste leaders to secure votes, and when many people believed that dynastic politics would ensure electoral victories, the landscape of Indian politics has changed dramatically. This shift has been fueled by demographic shifts such as a multiple rise in the middle class, increased penetration of technology and social media, the erasure of traditional hierarchies, and much more. Previously, politicians only had the option of hiring family members such as nephews, nieces, brothers or friends and associates in leadership positions, whether for elections or positions in the within the party.
The stunning BJP victories are a perfect example of how social media and analytics are affecting elections and the voting trajectory in unprecedented ways. Modi’s campaign in 2014 was mainly inspired by Obama’s groundbreaking presidential election in 2008. After witnessing the success of Obama’s MyBO campaign, Modi launched NaMo store (Narendra Modi Store) online, offering products inspired by Modi’s life and beliefs. The Modi team also launched the “India 272+” initiative, which was akin to Obama’s dashboard. For the first time, professionals were brought in to run campaigns, and the focus was on digital strategies, data collection and new media.
Innovation always follows a “trickle down” trend. First, the more prominent names or companies adopt a new strategy, and then that strategy is imitated by smaller players. Likewise, in politics, new wave political strategies have been used in the world’s biggest elections. However, some strategies can now be routinely observed even at the panchayat level, whether it is the widespread use of social media or WhatsApp marketing to influence voters.
With thousands of candidates entering the fray each year, elections become a challenge. So let’s look at some catalysts for growth that politicians need to focus on to win the hearts of millions.
Mantra of Success for Politicians in the New Age Political Landscape
The next wave of policy innovation lies in strategy and execution for incumbents and governance. Narendra Modi and the BJP, with its business-like structure and approach, as well as its reliance on an army of think tanks and consultants, epitomize the new approach to governance.
The execution of the last mile policy by the Modi administration has been successful, which means that the initiatives launched by the central government have been felt by even the most remote sections of the population. Whether it is rural electrification or the JAM trinity that stands for (Jan Dhan Yojana to help everyone open bank accounts, Aadhaar to provide every Indian with a unique biometrically authenticated identity number and mobile phones to extend the reach of services to the poor), each initiative makes a difference in people’s lives.
What does he do to continue to get re-elected and fight against the opposition to power? In today’s era of high political competition, elections begin on the day of the swearing-in. And how you govern defines how long you stay in power.
For businesses, it often costs less to retain customers than to acquire new ones, and the data in politics points to the same trend; it costs less to retain electors than to acquire new ones. Therefore, politicians are now hiring professionals not only for their electoral services but also to improve their governance and fight against anti-incumbency. The next election now begins on the day of the swearing-in.
Voters have only one goal in mind: to elect someone who can understand their needs. Therefore, to meet popular expectations, state political parties and individual politicians are becoming more innovative with their voters and using data to understand voter perceptions and issues. For example, during the Kerala assembly election, digital agencies and IT wings of parties used data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to collect voter data that could differentiate and analyze past voting trends with rising or falling popularity of candidates.
Today, the discourse around successful elections is shifting to the actual work done by governments and individual politicians. The New India will vote for welfare, fairness, transparency and progressive politics.
How are political advisory firms changing the game for Indian politics?
Whenever we encounter a problem in our lives, we seek advice from trusted sources, such as family or friends. Politicians also need it, especially when making tough decisions. This is where political advisory firms come in as allies who help politicians strategize for last-mile services and conduct cutting-edge political campaigns from an objective and unbiased perspective.
Plus, with a blend of strategy and execution, creativity and technology, they help visionaries transform their constituencies and bring their political visions to life. They help them gauge voter opinion by conducting polls, building profiles, planning events, and implementing war room strategies. They provide political parties with data on the candidate’s popularity among the target audience, the issues affecting them, and how they reacted to the candidate’s most recent event.
Other than that, they handle social media, SEO and full digital strategy, merchandise, OOH advertising and political party branding to improve visibility and send out communications to the public. general electorate. They are also leveraging technology to deliver a range of digital native services ranging from party worker apps at the voter booth level, data processing and visualization software, and voter service request apps.
Indian voters have demonstrated that there is no alternative to purely motivated, welfare and development policies. Understanding this, politicians partner with political consultancies to connect personally with their people with effective feedback loops and present themselves as someone who understands their demands and can overcome last mile obstacles to give that what they need when they need it. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that political consultancies are like Krishna in the Mahabharata, providing visionaries with the resources they need to realize their political visions and thrive in electoral battlegrounds. So it will be great to see how they change the face of Indian politics in the years to come.
(The author is co-founder and managing director of Politechnica, a political consulting firm. Opinions expressed are personal.)