Dr. J. S. Yadav
All the contesting parties will reach out the voters to win the electoral battle. Many issues will be raised to influence voters’ choice. For the ruling party the campaign narrative will be on its achievements while the Opposition parties will focus on ruling party’s failures both in the state as well as at the national levels.
BJP has edge over its opponents in terms of resources – leadership, RSS philosophy and Cadre support at the ground level. But the not so satisfactory performance on economic front and health sector during Covid-19 make BJP vulnerable.
The BJP, the largest political party in India, is power at the Centre and many states across the country. It has a great communicator /orator to lead it, cadre based support of RSS, and financial strength to propagate its ideology, views, programs and actions. There is no one to match Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oratory and propaganda skills. He knows the art & science of turning adversity into an opportunity, and turn a political development into a mega news event to capture media attention so as to influence perceptions and voters’ choice.
The Opposition to the BJP is fragmented. Along with opposing BJP they are furiously opposing each other as well. Each has legitimate political ambition to expand their footprint from region, religion, ethnic, and or caste base to wider visibility. In the process the common voter is confused. Are not the political leaders opposing BJP ensuring victory of BJP? ‘There is no alternative syndrome’ is playing in favour of BJP.
No doubt, the committed followers of different political parties vote for their respective parties. It is the fence sitters that decide the outcome in any electoral battle. That is what pollsters call ‘swing in favour or against ‘ different contesting parties. And it is the fence sitters that the contesting parties and leaders try to reach out and influence (win over) in their favour.
The BJP takes every electoral battle seriously. Be it Parliament, State Assembly, corporation or Panchayat elections. The Party starts early and contest every election with full strength and vigour. They fight elections as a united force backed by RSS philosophy and cadre.
The BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Naredra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah skilfully convert some select political development (news) as mega event. Several examples can be cited both from national and international political scene. Two-and half crore Covid-19 doses of vaccine were administered on Friday 17 September 2021 to celebrate the 71Birthday of the Prime Minister. In the process the Party is sustaining and marketing the Brand Image of the Party and its two main leaders with the hope to impact the forthcoming Assembly Elections.
Media are extending their helping hand. Most of TV channels, with exception of a few, have become mouth piece and their anchors have become advocates of the ruling party rather than the presenters of news. The social media are also helping the BJP as they have extensive IT (Information Technology) network.
In democracy periodic elections provide opportunity to the electorate to access the performance of the ruling party / government and vote to re-elect or vote out. The elections would be a judgement on five years performance of the state governments as well as seven plus years of the Central Government. The voters’ choice / judgement would be influenced by the Election Campaign Strategies adopted by the contesting parties.
One common component of campaign strategy adopted by all major political parties in the state is to put up and or support a number of other candidates to nibble in the potential voters of the opponent on the basis caste/ community/ religion or other considerations. And under Indian election system one who first past the post is declared as winner no matter how many votes have been polled in his /her favour.
Still there are 4-5 months to the forthcoming Assembly Elections. With no hold bar election campaign has already been launched; anything can happen in politics. Strategic surprise decisions will have bearing on electoral outcome.
Prime Minister’s surprise broadcast to nation on morning of 19th November 2021, Gurpurb, to withdraw the three Kissan Laws stunned the whole nation and the world at large. The announcement has been followed with the repeal of the three laws in Parliament. With this the BJP hopes to appease the farmers.
Earlier the Congress party in a surprise move replaced Capt. Amrinder Singh and appointed Charanjit Singh Channi (an SC) as the Chief Minister of Punjab with the hope to attract SC/ST and OBCs toward the Congress.
On-going dharna on Delhi borders for the last one year and their Mahapanchayat ‘ decision to oppose the BJP in the forthcoming Assembly elections ( vote ki chot) is a major political development.
In the circumstances, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the forthcoming Assembly Elections 2022. Overall picture so far seems to be in favour of the BJP. But you never know! Whether or not the voters have decided to defeat the ruling party as they did in post Emergency Parliament Elections 1977? In any case the Assembly Elections are going to be most interesting and consequential Assembly Elections.
(Dr. J. S. Yadav is former Director Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Founder Chairman Communication Management Foundation, New Delhi 110070; Mob: 9810355350; Email: email@example.com)