Saturday, 13 August, 2022
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Modi & BJP have chosen not to counter Congress’s claims on jobs, and it’s the right strategy

BJP’s election strategy team knows well that showcasing ‘good economics’ hardly translates into more votes.

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In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi have repeatedly raised the issue of unemployment and accused the Narendra Modi government of failing to provide jobs.

One would normally expect the BJP to counter it by reading out a long list of economic achievements of the Modi government in the last five years.

But the BJP has chosen not to do that. Its election strategy team knows well that showcasing ‘good economics’ hardly translates into more votes.

2004 defeat

In 2004, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a stunning defeat in the Lok Sabha elections despite delivering on growth and economic progress.

So, what went wrong for the BJP in 2004?

The BJP’s campaign managers, in their bid to showcase a ‘Shining India’, did not talk about basic bread-and-butter issues that mattered to each and every voter. In contrast, the Congress’ 2004 campaign around ‘aam aadmi’ brought the party to power.


Also read: Right skills & right jobs: How Modi govt’s Grameen Kaushalya Yojana is helping rural youth


At a state-level, regional parties saw a similar pattern. Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK, an NDA partner, suffered a defeat in 2004 despite Tamil Nadu emerging as an automobile manufacturing hub during that period. Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP lost the election in an undivided Andhra Pradesh even as Hyderabad emerged as the IT destination of India.

Therefore, macroeconomic decisions, disruptive or otherwise, may be good for economic course-correction but possibly lead to little electoral benefits.

People’s schemes

That’s why in 2019, the focus of the BJP campaign is not showcasing the GDP numbers or boasting about macroeconomic fundamentals.

It is rather projecting people’s schemes, like Ujjwala or Mudra, and telling voters about the significant changes the Modi government has brought in their everyday lives.

The BJP’s campaign managers know that elections are all about influencing voters, in urban and rural areas, and winning seats. At a recent election rally in Gondia, Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about doubling farmers’ income and ensuring affordable housing to all.


Also read: Narendra Modi and jobs: It’s all about data, and how it’s calculated


National security plank

Besides government schemes, Narendra Modi’s handling of the national security issue is also a key feature of the BJP election campaign.

The idea is to tell the voters that only a decisive and strong leadership can effectively counter any threat to national security. So, BJP president Amit Shah at a rally in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, said that no one can “dilute AFSPA” and the BJP would stand “like a rock behind security forces who are protecting our borders”. Shah also had words of warning for Pakistan.

But the BJP poll strategists are not harping on the theme of “desh ki suraksha khatarey me (national security in danger)”. That’s because national security is not the only issue that influences voting behaviour in favour of a party.

In the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the BJP had extensively focused on national security in its election campaign in 2009. But the Congress-led UPA registered an impressive win in the Lok Sabha elections and formed the government.

Lessons learnt

The losses in 2004 and 2009 have held out important lessons for the BJP’s campaign managers. Those expecting Narendra Modi to counter Rahul Gandhi’s claims about job losses may be left disappointed.


Also read: Unemployment is a silent political killer and can catch the BJP off guard in polls


But, do expect the BJP leaders to stress on women’s security, pension schemes, and farmer income support in the election rallies.

The BJP’s election campaign strategy, so far, seems to be on the right track. The party is waging the perception battle deftly. But voters’ preference remains as unpredictable as mountain weather.

The author is the former editor of ‘Organiser’.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not government alone creates job, but the policy decisions make businesses to thrive creating more jobs. Now that process is not going to bear fruits when 60 plus years of rule created such a sorry state. What happened to Garibi Hatao slogan from Nehru – Indira- Rajiv and many other congress years policy?
    BJP government has set system in place and cortailed corruption by way of making majority government functions online.
    Are people willing to follow laws of nation to get system work, or continue old way? Congress never owned responsibility of failure or corruption under PM nose and only allowed dynastic rule. Modi comes from humble back ground has risen through hard work where as most top congress leaders are helping themselves through family.

    • Does coming from humble background give me a licence to destroy the country? Dr Manmohan Singh was also from a very humble background and that too his family was uprooted at the time of partition. He chose to work hard, get the education he wanted or someone helped him get. What is his fault? Do my being semi-literate, with a degree in entire political science, give me right to abuse others – including the people who are dead? You must know that after the British loot, India’s 70% of the population live in poverty, a vast majority in abject poverty. That was the context in which a few generations of India built the country. Here we have some just about literate fellows abusing everyone. The organisation that let our ancestors down by not even participating in the struggle of freedom tells me that it will bring back 3000 year old glory through slogans. What is the cascading effect of filling up not filling up 20 lakh plus jobs in the public sector on the earnings of people and therefore for the private sector to create jobs? We don’t have to be economist to understand this. India is still a poor country, just because the PM changes his dress a few times a day or carries fancy pens in his pocket or travels in BMWs, protected by hundreds of security guards or does exercise videos in fancy dress, etc. does not mean that we are a rich nation and people can take care of themselves. People need help, million of people need help and they as much right on these resources as the fat cat businessmen and the politicians. Let us discuss what we and the government can do now to create employment rather than abusing the dead people – is my request. Let the thugs (of all colours) not hide behind the words like strategy to say that employment is not an issue.

  2. If someone could win election in 2014 by projecting jobs, that someone could also lose by not talking about jobs in 2019. Every thing depends on how opposition manipulates the situation. The election strategy is not one sided. It is a two-edged sword. A party cannot win every time fooling people. Let us watch how the elections proceed further and the results emerge before fixing the methodology and strategy in advance.

  3. Sir, hiding information from public is strategy. Is it? I think if the RSS/BJP really care for the country, you should tell them to discuss the issues and not discuss how smart it is not to discuss. All of us who are educated have an obligation to our education and to our families that we speak the truth and not lie through our teeth. The country has a problem, it must be discussed. The politicians of all colours must discuss it.

  4. Several surveys show unemployment to be the dominant concern. Difficult to believe the incumbent’s record on job creation will not be considered by voters.

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