Master strategy behind Modi's mega win

Master strategy behind Modi's mega win

Master strategy behind Modi's mega win

At noon on May 20, the newly elected 282 BJP members of lok Sabha stood in standing ovation for Narendra Modi on his election as their leader and the next prime minister.

There was a deep sense of awe and admiration for the man, who they thought, had delivered to them what had eluded their party for so many years: an absolute win on their own accord.

Behind the impressive victory of the BJP and the overwhelming mandate was one big question: what really worked for the party which until a year ago was seen as a bunch of leaders fighting among themselves?

Was it just one man, the 63-year-old Modi, who transformed a wrangling organisation into a fighting machine?

Or did the Congress’ own ineptitude hurt the party more than Modi who chanced upon the opportunity presented by the UPA’s dismal record in the last days of its office?

The answer may well lie in a host of factors but the single most factor that stood out throughout the campaign was energy and drive of Modi that engulfed the BJP, say even the not-so great admirers of the saffron party.

That energy set not just Modi’s personal endurance but the also the BJP’s political substance and versatility in electioneering style, which surpassed any of its political rivals.

Away from the media glare, aiding him were a deeply motivated and dedicated team of committed Modi loyalists of BJP, hundreds of Rashtriya Swayamsevak  Sangh workers, and a group of professionals who oversaw the BJP’s famous print, television and outdoor election advertisement materials.

A lot of inputs from the grassroots went into meticulous planning at the constituency level and a back-up team ensured close monitoring of execution of the strategy, according to those involved in the campaign. 

The now famous “Ab Ki baar Modi sarkar” (This time, it’s turn of Modi government) punch line was not just a slogan that was coined by this team but rather a confidence-building pill that Modi himself induced into the party cadres.

In several strategy sessions with party leaders, the BJP PM candidate expressed confidence that the party was sure to get enough numbers on its own to form the next government.

In doing so, Modi surprised even his aides who remained unsure at times when confidential surveys pointed to alarming gaps in the campaign, troubles over image of the candidates  in some constituencies and new issues that showed the rival party could gain.

Modi would dismiss these findings, pointing to the response he was getting in his rallies. “I can see it in meetings after meetings.

There is yearning for change. We should be comfortable on our own tally,” Modi would tell the doubting Thomases in his party.

Midway through his campaign, when he felt the steam need to perk up, Modi changed the BJP’s `Mission 272+’ slogan to ask for 300 seats, urging the people to give him full mandate to carry out his promises.

The change in his pitch encouraged the mood of BJP workers.

When he realised BJP leaders were still sceptical about his assessment, Modi went public with his claim.

“We will get 300 seats to run the government. But I  need support of every MP to run the nation,” Modi told his interviewers at the fag-end of his electioneering even as poll surveyors were unwilling to risk predicting  a comfortable number for the BJP.

Between September 13, 2013 when he was declared the PM candidate, and May 10 this year when he wound up his campaign, Modi had managed 440 rallies and attended programmes and interactions at 5,800 locations, clocking 3 lakh km.

Right from the time when electioneering peaked, Modi addressed four to five rallies a day, crisscrossing several states.

No other BJP leader was asked or needed to do anything.

“Each of his rally energized BJP cadres in that constituency,” said a BJP strategist. “Our candidates did not want anyone or anything. Just ensure Modiji has one event was their plea,” he said.

New outreach tools

Known for his penchant for new communication methods, Modi used 3D hologram technology for the campaign in 1,500 locations, which largely focused on young voters in 12 rounds.

The intention of this vast outreach methods was to address the concern that the BJP was only an urban party and one confined to the Hindi-speaking belt. He also brought in his Other Backward Classes status.

In scripting the BJP’s success for a massive surge in rural as well as urban areas, Modi’s Man Friday Amit Shah’s role was crucial.  UP gave 71 seats to the BJP.

Entrusted with the task of fixing the UP unit of BJP, which was in disarray, Shah worked to take “the Modi wave” to nook and corner of the state where, in his own words, “there’s neither TV nor newspapers.”

UP with 80 seats was divided into eight zones. BJP’s strategy was to have a four layer approach: one at the level of the Lok Sabha seat, at the level of clusters of seats, at the level of zones and then at the state level.

“Our programmes were conducted at 13,000 colleges to woo the first time voters. We had 800 full time volunteers below the age of 30 to work in a corporate style discipline with fixed targets to accomplish,” said a UP BJP leader. 

Shah had BJP workers to revitalise arrangement at one lakh booths in UP.

“After every rally by Modi, other leaders were sent to Assembly segments covered by him,” said a party activist. “Also feedback was taken from the attendees by a team that provided inputs to the aides assisting Modi and Shah,” said another party functionary.  In addition to the “ground work”, Shah carried out extensive background check on candidates while social and caste equations were factored in for the final list of nominees.

The result was that UP and Bihar tilted the balance in favour of the BJP. 

A sizeable shift of voters from the OBC category and the Dalits took place in its favour. In areas that had witnessed communal riots, the reverse polarisation also aided the BJP as other “secular parties” wooed the Muslims.

In the final analysis, the BJP’s win scored on four counts—getting a good vote share, increase the number of seats won, scored big victories in major states and helped push tallies of its allies, be it the Shiv Sena or the TDP who minced no words in thanking  the Man of the Moment—Modi.

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