Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Top 3 reasons for BJPs failure this election & what can be done about it

There has been a lot of micro analysis of the election results. Surely there are many factors at play that are responsible for the results the way they turned out to be.

But if only for the sake of putting emphasis let me select the top 3 reasons I think that were responsible for BJP's unsuccessful bid for power and what can be done about it. 

1. Spread - I think that the primary reason for BJP not making it was the lack of spread. Just by the factor of shear chance and probability BJP would have found it difficult to score high enough (about 80%) in the limited region it contested to be successful. Therefore, item number one would be to expand in AP, TN, WB, Kerala and to regain significance in Orrisa and UP. Needless to say it must recover the lost ground in Delhi, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.

2. Constancy - The Second most important reason I think was that the superb work done on creating the IT vision, Infrastructure vision, Social schemes (Ladli Ladki etc.), the Manifesto etc. never reached the people especially with the media not obliging to do the work for BJP. Perhaps the vision documents were too late in coming for the messages to spread. So these documents and messages must continue to be used as the guiding documents for all communication with the people in all up coming elections (at the city, state and national level) between now and 2014, in order to carry the message deep and wide.

3. Refinement - Unlike the popular view that BJP should abandon its position for a milder agenda, I think it is the refinement of the agenda and related messaging that is more important. All the messages and documents used during the elections must be kept open for debate and suggestions on the party websites to enable continuous refinement & improvement.

Monday, May 25, 2009

BJP lost but India still gained

Every one's talking about BJPs loss in the election and how they should have been more palatable to the general public.  But BJP's loss in elections, if at all due to very strident posturing, has still resulted in gains for India e.g.

-It has forced the government to abandon its slackness in dealing with terrorism and internal security matter. If only to not let the BJP gain the upper hand in the elections.

-The Citizen ID card has been brought out of the deep freezer and we might see some movement on it.

-The government seems now to be more mindful of its non-performance on the infrastructure front (especially the slow progress on the roads projects).

-Tainted ministers seem to have been kept out this time

-Third front stands discredited and there seems to be movement towards bipolar polity

-It has put the focus on pursuit of black money and so on.

Yes the power is still in the hands of same bunch of non-performers, but we might be underestimating the importance of an opposition in shaping the agenda for the country.

Winning elections is about being popular. That doesn’t necessarily go with standing for what is right.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Interenet and elections in the 2010s

It may have had little impact on the on the elections this year but Advani's site represented a new and unique experiment in engaging with the voters.

Internet as a medium is likely to have a big impact on the politics of the country in the next 5-10 years just as the coming of cable TV had in the early 90's.

After doing commendable work in 90s the television medium looks both jaded and biased.

The television has limited interactivity and (worse still) it is opinionated. More likely than not, the television will be stuck to the drawing room while the internet will roam free on web enabled devices and phones.

The web may not be much as a means to make an impression on the general public than as a tool to bring the like minded people together.

Now that can be a very powerful tool for any kind of collective pursuit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Perception over substance

It seems to me that Perceptions have won over Substance. Very little of substantive issues were debated during the course of the election, both in the media and by the parties. All the fight was to create perceptions - good guys versus the bad guys, strong guys versus the weak guys and so on.  In which it was perhaps the Congress which had the upper hand. Though, that might not be the sole reason for BJPs loss. 

The BJP was never really in the running because of its near zero presence (with or without allies) in over 180 seats and marginal presence in another 100. Take the allies off in the rest of the seats and what we have is BJP effectively fighting about 200 seats -implying, that it would have needed a strike rate of over 80% to even reach 160 seas on its own. Now that was always very improbable.

You could say the Congress has been lucky the second time round with many things falling in its favour. But the geographical spread probably was the main reason.

That brings us back to where we started. It’s probably the inability to manage perceptions that has limited the geographical extend of the BJP’s influence to start with.