Lessons from Elections ’09 on management of Indian voters!



The election results are out! We were not into any prediction games, but tried to base our prediction in the last issue on what others tried to predict! And it seems apart from Total TV and Live India, there was no one else who could make the right prediction about the election results! But I’m excited. Excited, because though no massive change in governance or the corruption index is likely with our current breed of rulers, the voters are exerting their powers in their own way; and that means that although very slowly, in another twenty years from now, these voters will elect the right people to power finally. The signals this time were clearer perhaps than ever before.

Firstly, anti-incumbency is more or less out – only your performance matters! Although the mandate nationwide was clearly against BJP, in the states where they have been doing creditable work, they still have won more seats. Even in the Assembly elections, it has been the same scenario. In Delhi, Sheila Dixit led the Congress to a win again and again, cleanly sweeping the constituencies – and mind you, hers is not the muscle powered dictatorial way that the CPM used to keep its power in West Bengal for so many years. And to imagine that at one time, BJP was known to be the traders’ party; and Delhi a trader’s city! The Indian electorate has time and again proved that they are no fools. You deliver results, you earn votes; even if it might mean the electorate time and again voting for the same party. You don’t deliver, the electorate immediately votes against you to see if other parties perform. That means the only assured way to winning the next time is to work and prove your worth.

The second great news is that the Indian populace has clearly given the signal that even if in the states they experiment with regional parties, in the Center, they still realize the importance of national parties. They also realize the significance of giving a clear mandate to one party to allow them freedom. And they further realize which are the parties that they need to keep away from power! The third exciting happening, and perhaps the most crucial, to occur is the anti-CPM mandate – in West Bengal especially and throughout India in general! It was long coming and it finally happened. Just a few days back, the West Bengal Chief Minister had commented that although he had heard for long that the days of CPM was over, he had never seen it happening. Well, now he definitely is seeing it happening. And it is my firm belief that the CPM’s days in Indian politics are now as good as over and for years to come. The reasons are simple. Worldwide, no one identifies with communists anymore; it is only the Bengal intellectuals who had faith in them. The Karat-led dictatorial dogmatic era went some steps worse and finally helped CPM destroy itself. And with the youth growing as the key deciding factor with every passing election, one can be assured that they will never vote for communists in many years to come. Also, in Bengal, on a wrong note, the CPM alienated the Muslims; people who aren’t scared of any muscle power. Everything put together, it is the end of CPM in India. Being a passionate believer of the socialist ideology, this is painful for me personally, but the CPM had every possible negative of communists and not a single positive. So in reality, they paid for it. Along with that, the signal is also clear that only inclusive politics will help, which brings us to my next point.

The days of BJP hype also look as good as history. There is clearly not a single youth in metros that identifies with the party. At a time when boys are even embarrassed to wear a red tilak on their forehead and to go to a temple, it would be plain wishful thinking to imagine the Indian youth coming out and voting for BJP’s ideology. Not to take away credit, the BJP will remain the second national alternative; but only when the Congress mess it up bad, will they get a chance. That too after a lot of image building exercises. The BJP now has to rebuild their image around modern people with modern outlook and modern personalities. Forget the elderly Advani, how many amongst India’s youth wish to be like the more younger leaders is also a matter of deliberation. The BJP has got to now project a progressive image, with a clear cut economic policy and a more inclusive party profile; to an extent that – to make people believe in their inclusive nature – the BJP perhaps should almost make it a policy to have ten percent and more BJP candidates as Muslims and another ten percent as Dalits. Even in states where BJP won, they lost in cosmopolitan cities like Bangalore. That’s their biggest problem. The youth does not identify and this problem will only grow with youth voters increasing in numbers by the year. And with the outright ridiculous acts of moral policing that they silently keep supporting, they are only doing their image more harm. If Rahul Gandhi revived the Congress in UP, it is another Gandhi, i.e Varun, who destroyed the BJP. Varun won, but the BJP’s and Advaniji’s silence on the issue made people feel alienated. And people realized that Advani is surely not for PM.

In addition to all this, from this election onwards, let us put to rest the debate about dynasties. The rule of dynasty is here to stay! Indian voters throughout the country have voted to power about twenty dynasties. It is not monarchy or a dictatorial system we are talking about. These are democratically elected leaders. If we love voting for our favourite leader, then we love voting for our favourite leader’s son/daughter as well and giving them a chance. If these sons/daughters fail to perform, of course, it might not be the same story next time. Yes, one doesn’t expect inner party democracy to also prevail and dynasties within the parties getting elected in a more believable process.

And finally and most importantly, let’s give our Prime Minister the due credit. Yes, it is true that Sonia Gandhi’s dignified ‘speak less’ stance has been appreciated by one and all, and people do look up to her as an able, behind the scenes support system. Yes, Rahul did revive Congress in UP and he does connect with the youth. But the country really voted for the Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress. The country voted because they believe in Dr. Manmohan Singh. They believe he is able, honest, sincere, positive and focused. India voted for Dr. Singh and that’s the truth. Sir, it is now over to you to this time to make sweeping changes that you as an economist best understand. And this time, you are the master of your own world! The nation looks up to you with immense hope! As a management exponent, I can only say that the Congress managed its campaign to perfection – sending clear signals in simple words including through their advertising campaigns. And BJP failed to manage to send any clear signals – not even about their consensus leader; neither could they manage their image to match it with the voters’ expectations.

At the end of the day, it is now a lot about management in politics and elections too. But winning is just the beginning in management. It is delivering that decides the future. Hope Dr. Singh delivers this time. Cheers!!

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