How Brand Modi Won: BJP's strategic planning and a united leadership proved to be the opposition's undoing
If the 2014 polls was a verdict against Congress, verdict 2019 is all for Modi. The opposition realised this gap much too late.
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Narendra Modi’s Midas touch continues unabated. He has won election 2019 in such a comprehensive a manner that few would have imagined it. The BJP has worsted its opponents across the country — barring southern India. The all-encompassing victory is not just a verdict in favour of the Prime Minister but is also a huge mandate scripted and delivered by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
The Opposition, barring the DMK and, to some extent, the TMC stands decimated.
The Congress party has been routed in the second successive General Elections for the first time in its history — it now faces a huge question mark over its relevance and leadership.
If the 2014 polls was a verdict against the Manmohan Singh government, verdict 2019 is all about Modi — the BJP has got 6% more votes than in the last elections.
Such was the magnitude of the Modi effect that he ensured victory even for candidates like terror-accused Pragya Thakur. The Modi wave overrode issues like rural distress, the job crisis and the anti-incumbency factor that many BJP MPs faced. Even in states like UP, where the BJP was up against the formidable Mahagatbandhan, it was Modi’s leadership that helped the party tide its way across.
Brand Modi all the way: The way BJP positioned Modi as a strong and decisive leader could give lessons to branding gurus! (Photo: PTI)
Business magnates Philip Kotler and Jeff Bezos might consider taking a leaf from the manner in which Modi-Shah positioned and marketed Brand BJP. Modi was positioned as a strong and decisive leader, and the Balakot air-strikes drove home the point that Modi could be trusted to not just safeguard the country, but also take the battle to the enemy camp. In the course of campaigning for this election, Modi demonstrated an uncanny ability to simplify and mesmerise through his masterful usage of communication tools.
In contrast, the opposition failed miserably in projecting a credible leader and putting forward a positive narrative.
While Modi spoke of his plans for the future, the opposition came across as a squabbling cabal that was unable to provide a strong counter-narrative. Throughout the elections, Mayawati continued to badmouth the Congress, Mamata Banerjee refused to strike a deal with them, the grand national party expended most of its energy in Bengal and tried to maximise their own seats, rather than work together in bringing down the NDA.
Consequently, it was the BJP’s charge that a vote for the opposition would mean a vote for instability.
There are some harsh realities that the Congress (in particular) and other Opposition parties (in general) have to face up to.
The first is that blind opposition to Modi doesn’t pay — the people expect a positive agenda and they want to know what the opposition has to offer.
The opposition’s gamble of pitting caste arithmetic against the BJP has also failed. Under Modi, the BJP has managed to cut across caste barriers. While alliances have met with some degree of success, clearly arithmetic alone is not enough to put it past Modi’s chemistry with the voters.
The opposition also failed in projecting a credible leader with a positive narrative.
Rahul Gandhi has come a long way from where he began. However, in the voters’ estimation, he still does not measure up to Narendra Modi. Mamata Banerjee and M K Stalin have held their ground in their states.
However, at least for now, there is no real challenger to Mr Modi at the national level.