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Mission 2014: The rise of the political campaign

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While the two-horse race hasn’t disappointed so far, what with all the mudslinging, sloganeering, crowd-pleasing and promising, there seems to be not a marked difference between the election strategies of the main opponents.

The Congress Party has flagged off its Rs 500 crore advertising and publicity campaign to promote leading light Rahul Gandhi. With a slogan that reads ‘Har haath shakti, har haath tarakki’, the blitzkrieg mirrors the idea of power and progress to each and every person while focusing on the progress made by the nation in the past decade, albeit with the Congress at the helm of affairs. One of the ads even features a young, Muslim party member, Hasiba Amin, urging the youth to join RaGa along with the tagline ‘Kattar Soch Nahi, Yuva Josh’.

Apart from this, the ruling alliance has initiated a Rs 100 crore Bharat Nirman campaign, which is being handled by ad agency Percept and run from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s budget headed by Manish Tewari.

What’s more, recently, Times Now Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami grilled the Gandhi scion in his first ever television interview since his political debut in 2004. RaGa answered questions including whether he is a reluctant politician and what are his views on the multiple scams facing UPA 2 but his answers elicited a mixed response where some found him frank and others felt he needed growing up, politically speaking.  

Not far behind the Congress, the BJP is close to finalising the ad agency to kick-off its Rs 400 crore campaign around prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. It is learnt that McCann Worldgroup led by adman-lyricist Prasoon Joshi and WPP agency Contract Advertising are in the fray to grab the hotly-contested account.

This – after the recent furore over Congress’ initial campaign slogan “Main nahin, hum”, which the party claimed had been lifted from NaMo’s tagline during the 2011 Gujarat Chintan Shivir. So much so, the Congress was forced to drop the tagline even after AICC media head Ajay Maken refuted BJP’s allegations by tweeting a picture featuring the slogan at a mushaira of Congress workers in Indore in 2010.

So while the Congress and the BJP gear up for battle in the media space, it remains to be seen how much of this will translate into votes for their prime-ministerial hopefuls. Historically speaking, in 2004, the then ruling party, BJP, had run a similar campaign ‘India Shining’ highlighting all its good work but the aam junta wasn’t swayed. One of the main reasons for the failure of the campaign was people’s inability to relate to it.

Whether things will work out differently this time one can’t really say but it might do well for both parties to take a cue from AAP’s unique strategy.

Unlike its traditional parties, AAP has largely stuck to communicating through outdoor activation programs and social media while steering clear of mass media campaigns.

The rookie party won 28 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly Elections and went on to form the government in the national capital sans any campaigning worth writing home about.

In establishing a door-to-door (person-to-person) connect with the common man in buses, trains, autos, juggis and bastis, the party’s volunteers stayed true to its one agenda – the aam aadmi.

As Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal’s recent dharna won him (and the party) more brickbats than bouquets as it is unheard for a constitutional head in a democracy to resort to such means. However, it helped AAP become the darling of the masses at no humungous cost, allegations of using the media to advantage notwithstanding.

Whether the junta will fall for the publicity and hype created by Congress and BJP or will give its nod to the AAP-brand of democracy, is highly debatable. Our only hope is let the best man (party) win!

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