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The Politics and PR of BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party

India Votes

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As a voter and as a PR professional, this is how I look at Indian elections.

For the first time, I am seeing three parties fighting it out, three ideologies and three possible Prime Ministers. I am entering this argument without fear or favour to any of the parties.

The regional parties have no pan Indian footprint even though they might play a part in the final game of numbers before President Pranab Mukherjee calls in the party or coalition with the maximum seats to form the Government.

Talking of the President, whether he plays in a fair or biased manner will be a very important fact should situations requiring him to be a true upholder of the Constitution arise.

The Congress is currently in power and has been so for the last ten years. Also it is the grand old party of India having been led by Nehru and influenced by Gandhiji and others. So it must be more than 60 years old.

Today as it faces the polls, as a PR person, I feel it is not projecting itself as strongly as it is capable of. It is true that Manmohan Singh has been a lame duck political Prime Minister, whatever be his acumen in Economics. Sonia is the power behind the throne. Rahul seems to bring in a breath of fresh air, but he is a novice to politics and sometimes his statements and stand contradict the majority view in the Congress. Dissent may be good, but the opposition can use it to convey that the Congress is a house divided.

Compared to BJP’s Narendra Modi’s direct attacks, the Congress appears willing to wound and yet afraid to strike.

After the Congress party’s President, Prime Minister and General Secretary, the Finance Minister is a major pivot but this time Mr P Chidambaram is not contesting the elections which makes his opponents and the electorate read hidden meanings into his behavior. A party going to the polls, while in power, and wanting to come out on tops again should not have such hesitant leaders.

Cut to Narendra Modi of the BJP. He is being packaged and marketed the most aggressively of the three national parties. His rallies are the best attended. He is quick to retaliate as we have seen how he converted his humble tea boy roots (an election plank literally gifted to him by the Congress) into a chai pe charcha campaign.

But minorities are worried about Modi. People say he has the makings of a dictator. He might take India to war with neighbouring countries when diplomacy   is the need of the hour. People have not forgotten Godhra despite various pictures in the media disseminated by the BJP’s press office of Modi being garlanded and garlanding Muslim and Parsi and Christian religious heads. Is Modi doing all this for votes and will he return to his pet subject of baiting minorities once he is firmly in the saddle as PM?

Modi’s treatment of his wife out of a child marriage exposes his double think. While he is campaigning for a better India for women, the fact that he has never afforded her the dignity she deserves hurts India. The media says he has even lied in his earlier affidavits by putting a hyphen against his marital status while he is confessing he is married to her during this Lok Sabha polls. She for her part just wants a peaceful retired life, her only wish being that Modi should acknowledge that she is his wife. The noble lady, despite all that Modi has done or not done for her, walks barefoot and fasts to see her husband installed at 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi.

If Modi genuinely meant it, he could have brought her back to his house, if she was forgiving enough. I repeat if Modi genuinely meant it. Then he would have got so much public sympathy from the Indian voter. Child marriages and adult marriages do fail but honestly in confessing one’s mistake (Modi and his wife are not divorced) and making up even if it is after decades is the mark of a man. But Modi could have held out the olive branch and his wife, who had every right to say no, might have accepted.

But what does Modi do? He has used the Gujarat machinery during his tenure as Chief Minister to stalk a woman!

Cut to Arvind Kejriwal. He is even more a novice to politics than Rahul Gandhi. I thought I would vote for him and the Aam Aadmi Party. But he frittered away his party’s debut win in the Delhi elections. I am worried that if he comes to power as Prime Minister, or even supports a coalition, he will give up office or take back his support and make the Government collapse much like a child behaves when his toy has been taken away from him.

But I also agree with many people that the time has come to cleanse the political system and Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party are the closest to doing this even by a long stretch of the imagination.

By Mohan Rajan, CEO, Paradigm Shift PR

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