‘How a Chai-wallah came to occupy 7RCR’ : the Leadership Story of the Modi Campaign

India’s social architecture is changing. India’s demographic dividend is finally paying up (a term popularized by Technocrat Politico Nandan Nilekani). This 9 Phase atrociously staggered election was punctuated with every nuanced characteristic of the Idea of India whether its is caste, religion, jingoism, and all the varied characters which would befit a Bollywood multi-starrer. This election leveraged Social Media to the hilt and the poll where 24×7 news TV made a resounding comeback (really entertaining coverage to admit must add at Times Now and CNN IBN). The BJP ran a very detailed 360 degree communications strategy with a technocratic precision with the on the ground hardware interface of the Sangh, The oratory prowess and the charisma of Narendra Modi vis-a-vis a quite non-verbose (pun intended) Manmohan Singh and rather amateurish Rahul Gandhi (demonstrated aptly via his inadequate interview with Arnab). 

In Delhi, where i currently live i was constantly bombarded with images of a strong Narendra Modi at the Bus Stop, Metro System and even on the radio the commuter is not sparred with the emotive communication with the tenor-theme of ‘Inflation Escaping and Development Coming in to the Country’. It was myth making sound-byte by sound byte. Manufactured Consent building via the media discourse is the hallmark of this communications campaign. To a certain extent this was an intelligent media campaign with respect to the flawed and disastrous ‘India Shining’ Campaign where boastful noise crowded out the message of the growth story post the Kargil War.

The media campaign was presidential carved around the twin heads of Leadership and to a shade lesser the prospective narrative of development. Both the themes reinforce one another. A strong leader can deliver the vision of development with force. The nuances of a 56 inch chest, Bangladeshi infiltrators, taking Mamata di head on are all symbolic of a masochistic political thought. Young India is raging high on hormones. It appreciates the brash, not the weak projection of the leftist intellectual class representative of the National Advisory Council. The ‘In the Face’ media narrative of the NaMo Campaign resonated well with the urban youth as they were all enthused with the proactive message rather than the emasculating, deafening silence of the UPA dispensation.

The narrative was constructed through a series of interviews with media honchos such as Arnab Goswami. Modi gamed the interview with him unlike the Rahul Gandhi one which TMC Leader Derek O’Brien called it a ‘Kindergarten Interview’. He has deftly put the issues of the long flogged horse of Secularism and minority community apprehensions regarding a Modi Government to the backburner. It is a communications home-run, for sure. How Team Modi managed to thwart the negative 2002 back-story and build a momentum is a Political Branding Case-Study at a Business School.

Whether or not a Narendra Modi Administration is a hit in the long term is a secondary issue, and honestly not the topic for analysis at-least in this post. This soul of this narrative is how a ‘chai-wallah came to occupy 7RCR’ , through the straight forward message of leadership and hope.