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Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

Last updated on: December 14, 2012 15:47 IST

Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

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Urvish Kothari

Urvish Kothari on the Gujarat chief minister's desperate search for tangible issue that could swing the voters his way.

Even as the first phase of polling in Gujarat ended on a high note without any obvious issue, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is yet to find a winning issue -- a single issue he can rest his campaign on. It has been a disappointing search for Modi.

It's impossible to predict the impact of his strategies on the poll outcome. Yet, one can safely gauge the buzz generated by different planks and projections of his campaign.

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A for Asmita (self-pride) & Apmaan (insult)

Much before the poll season entered in final lag, the Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party slapped a few television ads on the viewers quite literally. The ads depicted a fellow being slapped by an unseen person's hand, implying central government's injustice to Gujarat. It has been an old, almost customary grouse, usually generating hostile resonance for the central government. Not this time, though.

A man representing Gujarat slapped after 11 years of Modi rule? That sounded quite contradictory for target audience -- especially the youth. Also, the slap campaign had dangerous traits that challenged the basic structure of India and its constitution. The ad became talking point but not to the advantage of the BJP. The campaign was withdrawn unceremoniously.

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Image: Gujarat's CM Narendra Modi at an election campaign rally
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

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3-D Spectre

The way multiple appearances of Modi with the help of 3D holographic technology were announced ('for the first time in the world'), one may assume Modi was the inventor of the said technology. It might have been a killer app only if it had clicked. Very first 3D appearance had problems in the sound. It was a dampener with hundreds of chairs remaining vacant at the venue.

Modi continued with the show undeterred. The technicalities were sorted out in next performances and the shows continued. But they can hardly be called a crowd-puller. His detractors had a chance to poke fun at this 'hollow' graphic thing.



Image: Modi's 3D rally in Ahmedabad

Tags: Modi

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Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

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The M Factor

The Brahmastra (ultimate weapon) of Modi had been communal polarisation in the past elections. Mere indication that to vote for Congress is like voting for Muslim rule would work wonders for him.

In dire need of a concrete issue, Modi resorted to this strategy half way through his campaign when he referred Congress general secretary Ahmed Patel as Ahmed miyaan. He accused Patel of nursing an ambition for the chief minister's post, implying 'Congress is equivalent to Muslim rule' equation. He repeated the crudely communal address on the next day. To his disappointment, this jab found no takers. Modi didn't venture to use it thereafter.


Image: Sonia Gandhi's political advisior Ahmed Patel


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Crowd vs Captain

'Don't leave Gujarat to the unruly crowd that is the Congress leadership,' said one ad. The BJP projected its undisputable captain as its USP, portraying Congress as a bunch of leg-pulling leaders. The ad was repeated several times but not in a series in order to make it central issue of the campaign.

Larger version of the ad was issued on the polling day of the first phase implying its importance in the absence of other noteworthy issues. The choice was bewildering as Modi did not select any other ad depicting issues like alleged corruption of the Congress.


Image: BJP ad potrays Modi as a strong captain
Photographs: Courtesy: narendramodi.in
Tags: Congress , BJP , USP , Modi

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Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

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The Protector

Modi loves to project himself as the sole protector of the interests and values of Gujarat. During campaign, he accused the Congress of emptying the nation's exchequer and asked people, 'do you know why Congress is eyeing Gujarat? Just because Gujarat is a rich state and after draining away country's exchequer, it is now Gujarat's turn.'

He would declare himself as a chowkidar who would not allow Congress to plunder the state. It is another story that public debt of Gujarat was supposed to reach Rs.1.24 lakh crore last fiscal, according to the state finance minister Vajubhai Vala.


Image: Modi during a rally in Gujarat
Photographs: Courtesy: narendramodi.in

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Modi's six desperate campaign strategies

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The Nationalist

Almost as a last minute thought, Modi has brought up Sir Creek issue and brought Pakistan into his campaign arena. It was there in 2002 elections when Modi famously referred to the then Pakistan president as Miyaan Musharraf. This time it's not about Gujarat, says Modi. It's related to the pride of nation.

With few more days left before the voting for second phase takes place, Modi wants to be seen as a leader with the vision on the issues of international importance. Accusing or even warning central government not to gift Sir Creek to Pakistan shows his desperate search for an issue that will last till December 17.

The factors that can nullify the probable futility of his strategies include his personality cult, the BJP's deep roots in Gujarat and perception of Modi and the BJP as 'a lesser evil' in comparison to the Congress.


Image: A supporter of Modi attends his rally in Gujarat
Photographs: Reuters

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Gujarat election: TOP photo features

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Click on MORE to see another set of PHOTO features...



Tags: PHOTO , MORE , TOP

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