Friday, September 9, 2016

The 5 themes of Intellectual backlash against India

When some of us friends meet and talks are exhausted, we often watch funny videos. Ham movies like Gunda and ham videos are quite a rage because they give us talking points for some more time. Pakistani media’s clips are among our favorites. I wondered why it is that Pakistani media and intellectual classes are full of hilariously idiotic elements and who does the thinking for them? I figure now that the best minds at the disposal of Pakistan in media and intelligentsia are journalists and panelists holding Indian Aadhar cards!
Thus when the government of India raised the issue of Human Rights violations in Balochistan and PoK, frenzy was expected in the colony of pro-Pakistan brain rats, and frenzy we had! A confused enemy is your best friend in the battle, he might give away all of his future moves in the confusion.
The diplomatic escalation of Balochistan & PoK probably came too unexpectedly to allow a planning of the narrative and Aadhar-holder Pakistani brains have given away quite a few themes for their future narrative designed for the sole objective of dissuading India from building pressure on Pak & exposing its excesses in Balochistan & PoK. Discussing a few that have been identified:

The Bhaago-bhoot-aaya (Run ye! The ghost cometh) theme:

Practitioners of this theme will try to scare India off with rumors of the ghost of Pakistan’s righteous might!
Articles appearing will argue based on UN resolution on Kashmir and Shimla agreement and how India, by talking about Human Rights violation, an internal matter of Pakistan, India is in breach of Simla Agreement but Pakistan “doing the rights violations” and also sending terrorists, violating cease fire on LoC repeatedly is not because Pakistan is itself a victim of terror which has no religion.
Some will argue that this will internationalize the Kashmir issue and put India in a tenuous position internationally and that it will be a great fall from the position achieved during the previous regime. As it is they have largely pushed themselves hard to make themselves unaware of India’s diplomatic gains in recent times and this practiced innocence garnished with staged vehemence will serve them well.

The “Two unholies doth make not a pilgrimage” theme

Although these particular views presented in continuation and representing a continuous thought look innocuously moralistic and preachy at best, the come from the factory of marshmallows with a bitter gourd candy core. It talks about “a nation that backs terrorism” and one would presume the reference is to Pakistan… or is it? With the immediate backdrop of India raising human rights violations in Balochistan, the craftily ambiguous message could well be for India. Even if it is for Pakistan, it predicts “the same problem” ie. “terrorism exported by India”?!? This brings us to the next theme…
Practitioners of this theme are more futuristic in their approach. They are pre-empting an Indian offensive on Pakistan and planting vocabulary for the scenario. In the monsoon of outrage these seeds would bear lush green goop of cringe inducing accusations. The main target consumers of this theme would be internationally acclaimed rags like NYT whose pens are filled with gallons of bile which could digest Modi in a wink!
Saffron terrorism shall be back and it shall now have religion as opposed to secular terrorism! Loud TV debates will be held where entire platoons of sharp shooting “humanist” voices will be aiming at a lone BJP spokesperson who will be fighting them and then a very bad throat.
India’s head will be sought daily on the alters of the humanity they envisage, notwithstanding that India is a sixth of all humanity and it’s interests would serve humanity more than that of the humane secular terrorists. Questions like “Do two wrongs make a right” and “Has India degenerated into a terrorist nation while trying to pin the charge on Pakistan” will dominate prime time debates. Modi will be equated with the most (un)popular hate icon of the world- Hitler. Charges of warmongering and fascism will be leveled against him.
The Indian army will be equated with terrorists, RAW with ISI and all of Pakistan’s crimes will be justified in India by the Indian Aadhar card holding Pakistani voices. Amnesty will institute reports on how India has almost brought humanity to the brink. Other out-of-job FCRA violating NGOs will hold peace marches near Rashtrapati Bhavan, get angry pictures clicked which shall make it to front pages and coup-fiction writers will gleefully call each picture a Tiannamen moment on twitter!

The “I sense darkness in your forces” or “Darth Vader” theme

This theme also preempts a war but is more sinister than the “Two unholies doth make not a pilgrimage” theme. It does not see the army as a single unit of evil but seeks to divide it into saffron evil and under-the-command-of-saffron evil. It shall work through allegations on tough talking formidable leaders in the defense forces, build opinion and cause disaffection against them. The end goal may be to instigate resentment in the armed forces themselves, through sustained public mudslinging on decorated Indian generals and the government leading them.
It has an added benefit that in the eventuality of a setback to India, the peaceful nation Pakistan, or peaceful religious ideologies shall not be blamed. The blame shall rest with the saffron war machine infested with evil hindutva ideology! It is just as amenable to International propaganda, lobbying and outrage.

The “Special agent Gaandhari” theme:

This theme is very simple, efficient and effective. Logically it displays the same spectacular lack of erudition of the “Why launch Mangalyaan when there are poor and hungry in India” argument, but it is much more potent than that.
Just like Gaandhari’s deliberate blindness, it is deliberately blind to the fact that raising issues of human rights violations by Pakistan is just a more honest version of the frivolous ranting and poking that Pakistan does against India over Kashmir, in effect, giving Pakistan a taste of its own medicine. Only Pakistan is actually sick and the medicine would be more bitter.
This clever theme actually works to Pakistan’s advantage because:
·        It claims that India in apathetic to Kashmir and thus subtly jstifies the separatist violence with Indian apathy, while obscuring the role of Pakistan in instigating the violence. This chief engineer of this theme is also going Gaandhari over the confessions by arrested Pakistani terrorist Bahadur Ali, of Pakistani hand in manufacturing violence. Pakistan would be shedding tears of gratitude!
·        Claiming Indian apathy in Kashmir and delinking Balochistan and Kashmir would also imply that India is being adventurist in Balochistan for its own sake. This can then be blamed on hypernationalism and position Pakistan as the victim of “communal” and “Islamophobic” hindu nationalist ambitions…. Pakistan should send a high level delegation just to land kisses of gratitude on such intellectuals!
Staying blind to obvious truths, this theme serves Pakistan while maintaining an veneer of innocence & concern for Kashmiris. This is a beautiful sabotage that accomplished secret agents can pull off! Hence the theme.

The “Inconsequentialis Irritatus” theme

Founders of this theme belong to the esteemed “If-Kashi-Why-Not-Gyanvyapi” school of thoughtlessness. They possess a high pedigree in monkey-balancing and produce opinions with little real value but very high nuisance value. Their claim to fame is that they are not taken seriously by anyone but generate a lot of outrage!
Usually such mindless tweets are followed by the noble quest to drown evil internet yindoos in gallons of Bloody Mary through some ideologically funny articles. Meaning, if you are laughing at the supposed humor/satire it’s only because you are fighting for the ideology. As the theme suggests, these are inconsequential opinions which irritate you a lot.

Although, the presentation above is composed to look light-hearted and sarcastic, the analysis is not intended to be taken lightly.

Many fronts are opening up, many narratives are in the making. If there is to be strife, it shall have to be dealt with on the ground by the leaders and their forces, and in the intellectual space by free minds who care for each other’s and the nation’s future. Facts, information, the right perspective and unity in testing times are the weapons at our disposal. They are to be used with diligence and to good effect.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Chetan Bhagat abused an anti-abuse article!

Abuse is never desirable. “Abuse” is a broad term used to denote misuse of a faculty or endowment usually with violent intent, invariably with undesirable effects. When talking about speech or writing, that which we call “abusive” in common parlance, is someone (mis)using language for an expression of violence. It is meant to hurt, is always deplorable.

I came across this blog from Chetan Bhagat today- “Anatomy of an internet troll: How social media birthed a strange new phenomenon in India, the bhakts”. While reading the title, by the time I got to the semicolon, I thought it would be an analysis of those who abuse. When I read the complete title, it appeared to be not Mr Bhagat’s analysis of the evil that abuse is, or a promotion of the dignified behaviour, but his own abusive strike against a specific section of Social Media users. A little disappointed, I decided to clear my doubt so I read on, hoping it would at least be intelligent.

The first cardinal sin Mr Bhagat commits as a commentator is that he bases his article NOT on a larger value, say dignified conduct, but uses one, or the lack of it, to single out and attack a section of SM users. His piece suggests that all bhakts are trolls, and they are abusive. Incidentally the term “Bhakt” was invented not out of overwhelming love for this section of SM users but to abuse/ridicule them. Mr Bhagat uses this abusive term throughout his anti-abuse article! I won’t make it an issue here because those they call bhakts are open-minded enough not to mind being called Bhakts. I WILL make an issue of him equating abuse with this particular section.

It is gigantism of ignorance if one attributes “abusive behaviour” only to Bhakts. For a fact one of the patriarchs of abuse on twitter was one Mr Amaresh Mishra, a known Congress supporter, who had the rare distinction of being one of the first to be arrested for abusive tweeting. Here are some of his gems… discretion advised!

There are scores of non-Bhakts, including media personalities and celebs who are abusive. The august list includes Marxists, Congress supporters, AAP-Supporters, media-persons, celebs, name it! Expectedly all these abuses are against those they call Bhakts. (Discretion advised again)


(Img src: Various Twitter handles including BSKS)

I do not intend to argue that it is ok for one side to abuse if the other does. I am only intrigued why Mr Bhagat missed out on these and attributed abuse ONLY to so-called bhakts. Isn’t using his outreach as a popular author, to nitpick, generalize and denigrate a specific section of SM users an abuse of his outreach and popularity?

Mr Bhagat tops this travesty with a definition of Bhakt. He attributes these qualities to them:
  • Male
  • Weak communication skills particularly in English
  • Not good at talking to women, sexually frustrated
  • Hindu and ashamed of being one
A misreading could not be more deliberate. I call it deliberate because I have faith in IITs and IIMs that certified the adequacy of Mr Bhagat’s competence. Some of the most vocal and popular accounts among those labelled “Bhakts” are women! Mr Bhagat would’ve got an idea if some reasonable guilt did not prevent him from checking his notifications after posting this article. HE perhaps tried to sanitize the write-up by excluding women from the bhakt category because he was trying to amplify the effect of his hate rant by making it an issue of “abuse against women”. Identifying women among Bhakts would’ve opened him to criticism for bad-mouthing women and consequent hypocrisy. Clever, only by half.

If Mr Bhagat’s world view is shaped by his own experiences (which mostly is the case), I would sympathise with him for all the sadness in his life. He believes women are so shallow as to rate men solely on their delivery in English. Men and women alike appreciate wit, information and perspectives. Some very popular handles on twitter usually tweet in Hindi. But by generalizing this shallow view of women’s choices, borne either out his experiences or some skewed imagination, he is abusing the very women for whose honour he fancies donning the fighting tights.

Mr Bhagat then invokes the Sunday-psychologist in him and diagnoses the Right leaning Hindi Hindu males with “sexual frustration”. It’s fascinating trying to decode his reasoning that connects sexual frustration with abuse. It goes like this:
You want to have sex with the other person, but you cannot, so you are frustrated sexually and start abusing 
I have seen beautiful bonds develop here on twitter in the right wing space. Men and women address each other and brothers and sisters. There are women who are respected as motherly figures. Many men and women with a Hindi-hindu RW inclination have made amazing friends on Social Media. By generalizing Hindi-Hindu-RW-Males as sexually frustrated & abusive, isn’t Mr Bhagat insinuating that the many women who talk to these men, and are not being abused, are somehow gratifying them sexually? Perhaps he didn't intend to but the side whose narrative he is pandering to, will likely use this generalization to ridicule women conversant with RW leaning men. This is how stereotypes work. Isn’t this reductionism abusive?

If all abuse were a result of sexual frustration, how would Mr. Bhagat explain this?
Per Mr. Bhagat’s analysis, Mr. Sardesai wanted to have sex with all those who called him “paid media”, since he couldn’t, he abused!

Mr Bhagat also has a problem with the antagonists of his piece because they espouse the Hindu pride. He reasons and I quote:
“One, these true bhakts are not just Hindu fanatics. They are not all VHP members. Some of them don’t even identify with the Hindu cause, they call themselves nationalists instead. Their stated aim, if you are to believe them, is nation building and winning back for India its lost glory. In reality, they are neither Hindu warriors nor nationalists(…)”

They are not Hindu warriors apparently because they talk of Hindu pride. They are not nationalists because they talk of “nation-building and winning back for India its lost glory”. By this line of thought, Mr. Bhagat, who is concerned about respect for women does not care two hoots about any respect for any woman. These suggestions and prescriptions by him might even make this stupefying deduction credible!

(img src: @bwoyblunder)

I think in his zeal to subtly abuse all RW-Hindi-Hindu males Mr Bhagat might’ve made some not-so-subtle enemies too. He claimed Hindi-Hindu males are the poorest in India. Facts be damned, but that apart, this makes all of them look stupid, who are claiming muslim reservation on the pretext that Muslims are the poorest community in India.

There are other obvious hypocrisies too. For instance, the victims he roots for and who are “incidentally women” are “under attack or being abused” if their hypocrisies are exposed. But it is an “innocuous freedom of expression” when these people badmouth the PM or when they badmouthed the very candid and delicate expression that (#SelfieWithDaughter) was, just out of spite for the PM. Extending Mr Bhagat's ridiculous generalization, all detratctors of Mr Modi who abuse him day in & out are sexually frustrated on being deprived by Mr Modi?

I, and i believe no one by now, subscribes to this line of reasoning. Abuse is a symptom of many a malaise, not just sexual frustration. Anonymity may instigate perversion in some. While many just  see media & liberals being caught lying every single day & then going scott free to repeat their malice over and over again. It induces frustration which manifests through abuse. In any case, abuse is to be discouraged and many responsible handles from among RW Hindi-Hindu-Males do that.
One would be naturally inquisitive by now, as to why Mr Bhagat would abuse his popularity, his outreach, the women he claims to be concerned about and the RW Hindi-Hindu-males, to produce such an obvious piece of unmitigated disaster and put his reputation on the line?

Perhaps this is in-vogue if you look at the dividends earned by some claiming “victims of abusive sanghi/bhakt trolls”. Being a victim of Sanghis is generating quite a bit of mushy love in media circles. If you are looking for easy publicity, this would be the way to go.

Or maybe it’s because he was trolled quite a bit for judging Nach Baliye, he probably expected love that he didn’t get and is now the jilted lover seeking retribution.

It could even be an attempt at making new friends across the board so he could attend the parties he always wanted to but was never invited to. Friends who could help him makeover his “popular-but-not-classy-author” image.

Whatever the reasons be, I hope nobody used his own piece to analyse his abuses on the RW-Hindi-Hindu male, for if they do, it would turn out:
  • Mr Bhagat is a male.
  • Mr Bhagat has deep seated inferiority complexes, probably stemming from the lack of acceptance of his as an author of some stature
  • Mr Bhagat is sexually frustrated with eyes on RW-Hindi-Hindu males
  • Mr Bhagat is a liberal but is ashamed of it   
Mr Bhagat, i only intend to highlight your thoughtlessness behind the abject stereotyping. I am not experiencing a testosterone surge, nor do I mean to abuse. It is my appeal that you use your outreach judiciously and write to debate not to denigrate. As for your advise on dealing with abusers (equated with bhakts), I wish to tell you that social media has matured enough to ignore and block habitual abusers across the ideological spectrum even before you produced this insight. The prospective friends that he roots for, have a problem with the non-abusive ones, who challenge them, with whom the engage but cannot win an argument. "Abusive tweep" is a bogey raised to club these challengers with the abusers and recycle their shame to make some fame.

In the absence of this intellectual honesty, your article is nothing but an abuse in the name of an anti-abuse article!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

In love I believe

The lover saw his lady in a star
So close with eyes closed, when he opened them, so far.
Perhaps I'm just silly, he thought
This affair is with futility fraught!
It was a star, not a thing to be had
Maybe it's not love, just a momentary fad.
But no matter how hard he tried to refute,
He couldn't resolve it for it was no dispute.
She is my love - he thus reasoned out.
Let none tell me otherwise, let there be no doubt.
For love is not in having as it is in Giving,
And love is not in seeing so much as in believing!
She burns each night, to kiss me with her light
The abyss of my life, with hope she makes bright.
She gives me reason to look up and and to harness,
My fears, and promises I'll find light in the bosom of darkness.
She is all-giving, why then should I not love her?
Why earthly follies entertain, why lose her coz I cnt hold her?
She is my love for as long as I live,
For though I don't see her form, but in love I believe!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Prescriptions for Land Acquisition: The Good doctor and the Crook

The good doctor fixes you. The crook makes sure you are fixed enough to pay, broken enough to keep coming back!
India has been ridden with many ailments ever since we realized ourselves as a nation, and socialist parties have given us lippy socialist solutions which convinced us that we are all right until we realized that we are not. Some symptoms seemed to cure at times but the cancer remains. 
PM Shri Narendra Modi, while speaking at the Niti Aayog meeting, identified poverty as India’s biggest problem, and rightly so. Add to that unemployment, more mouths to feed with a bludgeoning population, stagnating agricultural productivity, low rate of industrial growth etc. 
The message about manufacturing-led growth is so diffuse, it is hardly an expert opinion now that India needs growth driven by the manufacturing sector for employment generation and pacing up poverty alleviation. And it doesn't matter what, except news and outrage, any manufacturing unit requires land for setting shop. 
World Bank estimates suggest that just by halving delays due to road blocks, tolls and other stoppages, India could cut freight times by some 20-30 percent and logistics costs by an even higher 30-40 percent. Better Infrastructure alone can go a long way in boosting the competitiveness of India’s key manufacturing sectors by 3 to 4 percent of net sales. 
The prospects sure look exciting but try to close doors on your miseries, you shall find the #AdarshLiberal foot blocking it. Infrastructure development and manufacturing growth, both have massive land requirements. But on any land that anyone wants to acquire “Legitimately”, you shall find an activist squatting, fulfilling his/her life’s purpose by stalling anything that might work. Pick out any major infra, mining, industrial project announced in India, high-profile activist careers will be definite byproducts of the project. Between Medha Patkar(NBA) and S.P. Udaykumar(PMANE), India is seeking to go Nuclear from Hydel, but activism is still the same struggle to stay useless. 
One naturally wonders what is so wrong with development projects that someone or the other is always threatening to starve to death because of it! Motivated agenda apart, there are multiple strains which need to be eased before the land acquisition process smoothens out. Land means different things to different people. Broadly categorizing key stakeholders as land users (owners or tenants) and land appropriators (Government or Business)the appropriators are driven towards the land by Prospects of growth. On the other hand, the land users are driven by insecurity from loss of livelihood. These expectations/fears must be reconciled for land to switch hands smoothly. 
Acquisition of land was done under the British formulated Land Acquisition Act of 1894 until recently. It was a draconian law made to suit British interests and facilitated land grab from hapless Indians. Indians themselves used this law until 2013 with some inadequate amendments in 1962 and 1984. The trick employed by the then ‘socialist’ Governments was that used by the crooked doctors- treat symptoms, make sure the cure is not permanent and the patient returns! 
The 1894 law enabled the government to acquire private lands under the “Eminent Domain”doctrine. The government could then use it as it wished, they could even give it to private businesses. The state could willfully reduce itself to a muscleman evicting people from their lands in the interests of private business houses. The “Urgency clause” would enable the government to uproot habitations at short notice and without adequate compensation. It suited the British and it would be anybody’s guess that post-independence it warmed many pockets of the high and mighty in governments. An attempt was made in the name of correcting this anomaly in 1962 by adding a provisio mentioning that government can acquire lands for Companies only for “Public Purpose”, the term being vaguely defined. The “mischief, defect and lacuna” (terms officially used in statement of intent of the 1984 amendment act) was not corrected until 1984. 
The 1984 amendment defined “Public Purpose”. Scope of acquisition for private companies under the clause meant for Public enterprises, was curtailed and compensation was increased. Even so, Rehabilitation & resettlement were not addressed. Government role in acquisition for private business was effectively discouraged. It is difficult for private players to acquire land without government support, specially with India’s long marriage with socialism and the presence of NGO activist Baraatis. India has not had a good track record in rehabilitation & resettlement either. 
In order to create a Land regime encompassing acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, the LARR was mooted, the bill passed in August 2013. This was a bill drafted by the supra-governmental NAC, a congregation of NGOs led by Ms Gandhi. The bill that came out did address the compensation and rehabilitation but made land acquisition for businesses and PPP projects a walk up the hill, and a steep one at that. As if the 80% consent requirement was not enough, Social Impact Assessment was introduced. It is this unstandardized, immature process which shall decide the fate of businesses and infrastructure projects. It is a process similar to Environmental Impact Assessment and one can only wish it doesn’t go that way. Need for EIA clearance gave us the“Jayanti Tax”. SIA could well give vested interest groups, the right to extort. To be fair, SIA is a noble sounding exercise, but given the vagueness, its veracity is uncertain. It is in use at many places, but making an un-standardized process critical, at a time when the economy is crying for help, is not judicious. 
In addition to the above issues, 13 laws such as The Atomic Energy Act-1962, The National Highways Act-1956, SEZ Act-2005, Land Acquisition(Mines) Act, 1885, The Railways Act-1989 etc which involve Land acquisition, were outside the purview of LARR. Acquisition under any of these offsets the relief provided by LARR. The crook of a doctor shows up again! 
NDA’s proposed land bill (LAB) seeks to correct these anomalies by including these 13 laws under the Rehab-resettlement process, ensuring adequate compensation. The balance between expectations of businesses and PSUs on one hand and the land holders on the other is being attempted. All the merits of LARR in terms of rehabilitation and compensation have been retained while consent requirement has been brought down from a near impossible 80% to a manageable 70%. SIA has been kept off 5 strategic and development-critical areas namely industrial corridors, public private partnership projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.
This comparative view should make it clear that NDA’s LAB aims for balance and the bill itself promises a stable Land regime in future. We look to be moving in for a cure. That is perhaps what torments the crooked old doctors of the Indian social, political, economic space. A stable land regime is an issue lost forever! 
Sentiments related to land have been used to manufacture revolutions. Land has shed blood, created rebels, right from the time of Deccan agrarian riots back in the 19th century, to the more recent anti-POSCO agitations. Land agitations have turned yesterday’s doping hippies to today’s revolutionary leaders. The promise of land reforms and “operation Bargha” among others reasons, ensured that the communists ruled West Bengal for 34 years. Land has always been a Fat Cow of a political issue which the left and ultra-left have coveted. NDA’s LAB is a likely #BeefBan staring in the face of opposing forces! I do not claim that LAB will magically solve all of India’s problems but I do emphasize that LAB is a balanced bill, an improvement on all past acquisition bills and “balance” (of expectations) is the key to a stable land regime. 
It is time for India to be informed, to choose the good doctor, the one who is out to cure the illness! 
Post Script: Baiting Bihar in the land-agitation hook: 
Upcoming Bihar elections, though they do not figure in the land acquisition discourse overtly, are a key focus of all detractors. Land is a touchy issue in Bihar. There are good chances that Land agitation will snowball into a big issue prior to Bihar elections. JDU under Nitish and RJD under a reactivated-post-vacation Lalu Yadav are working to make sure it does. In my recent visit to Bihar, I noticed that their propaganda is aggressive, effective and unrelenting. Even kids in a proudly identifying “Kattar-BJP samarthak” (hardcore BJP supporter) village in Siwan were disillusioned, the elders, quite understandably would be out of their wits. 
Bihar is a place of extremes when it comes to land. It has some of the most fragmented land holdings in India. With 76% population dependent on agriculture there is a high dependency on land, it translates into heightened insecurity with the land acquisition bill. On the other extreme are those who invest in land and measure status and success with the size of landholding they possess. The former feeds crowds in rallies, the latter feeds coffers of political parties. Both are afraid they will have to let go of their land!
A good nudge, and all of these sections will vote, not for BJP, not for JDU or RJD but against LAB. Perhaps that is what is being attempted. There is no greater joy for most of our political commentators than to come out and say “The Modi wave is over”! 
To remain in the fray in Bihar, BJP will need to kick off a massive campaign to nullify the propaganda well in time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winning Delhi : The Vain Challenger! [Final Part]

[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 1 - The Narrative]
[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 2 - The Volunteer Force]

[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 3 - Channels and Methods]

Being a part of the whole comes with its own pitfalls. Weak parts of the strong whole tend to embrace complacency for confidence. This is probably what happened with BJP in Delhi. Delhi BJP does not have a reputation for being the most organized or coherent regional unit. Yet the way BJP was churning success after success, one hoped that the age of pathos in Delhi BJP would finally be done away with. This 'Hope', was the bastard of a thought trolling all BJPians on 10th Feb.

I was one to root vehemently for BJP & against AAP, with my liberal, progressive friends who make views out of "served news". I had to remove a boulder from my chest each time the phone rang that day, for it would invariably be from someone who'd be telling me what I already knew, "Kejriwal ne toh kamaal kar diya!" (Kejriwal has done amazingly well)

There are smart students who act so smart, they start looking stupid. They are so self-assured that they do not prepare the obvious questions before exams, hoping that (a) They won't be getting such obvious questions (b) By preparing for uncommon questions, they'll have something which others don't have (c) Nobody else would be preparing these questions. These are the guys who, when the results are out, claim, "I have no idea what went wrong. The examiner is a crook".

The obvious and most basic thing to do for BJP was to set-up, strengthen and effectively use its communication channels viz Mainstream Media (through spokespersons), Social Media and the foot-soldiers. None of these required any painstaking efforts from BJP. BJP was infact guilty of not doing more of the same.

Sprucing up Channels:
  • For MSM, BJP has always boasted of some of the best debaters as their spokespersons. With a hostile media working against them, the likes of the feisty Meenakshi Lekhi and Smriti Irani were sorely missed. The new generation of BJP spokespersons, as opined by many BJP supporting observers, looked rather fatigued and defensive on TV debates. They could not counter such obvious lies as the 10 Lakh worth pin-striped suit or the manufactured rancor over Ms. Bedi's 'lying about towing the PM's car'.
  • On Social Media, BJP's IT/Samvad Cells had successfully taken the good work done in Gujrat to people. This was when MSM was so uncharitable to BJP, that it would report none of Gujrat's achievements. IT/Samvad cells came up with achievement summaries, comparisons, charts, graphs, data, slides etc that highlighted the good work done in Gujrat. These helped ordinary BJP supporters in supporting BJP with more conviction and winning debates. Very little of this has continued since LS-2014. As of now, the only information circulated in support of BJP is that which the media reports in some obscure corner of their bulletins.
  • LS-2014 had seen massive mobilization of foot-soldiers. Some very innovative and highly successful programs like "NaMo Chai Party" were organized nationwide. In the run up to Delhi elections, willing & eager volunteers were wondering when the party would summon them for campaign. By the time they were summoned, they barely had 15 days in hand while AAP had already campaigned for more than 3 months by then. Further, I can imagine no good reason why a successful program like NaMo Chai Party would not be replicated in states going for elections.
As we talk about BJP's communication channels, ominous news are afloat. The national cells dissolved by BJP way back in Nov 2014 have not been reconstituted yet. They include important communication bodies like the Samvad Cell. The grapevine says that dedicated volunteers, some of whom are pioneers of BJP's Social Media campaign, are being harassed and jackbooted by the Bihar BJP. You just cannot afford to alienate volunteers!

Identifying the right narrative:

Suggestion makers outside BJP have been critical of decision makers inside BJP over their campaign narrative, with many conflicting notions. Some see excessive Hindutva in BJP, some see a lack of it. Some were heard warning BJP against a negative campaign in future. Such dissonance in views only suggests that the BJP did not have any identifiable narrative for the Delhi elections. In my opinion, these suggestions by themselves are mono-causal, reductionist, arguably agenda-driven, simplistic and only partially helpful if at all.

Delhi was won over by a party which owes its existence to negative campaigns. Those suggesting BJP against negative campaigns probably want to shield their favorites from being critiqued while they keep pounding on BJP. That said, campaigns, whether negative or positive, have to be timed well. One should learn the art from evangelists and communists. They attack, criticize and try to debunk the standing beliefs and create affective vacuum in their target audience.. Then they fill it with their own world view. 15 days of haphazard campaigning was just not enough for BJP to achieve this. The best they could do in 15 days were negative campaigns and hope Modi's image gave the positive push. It didn't work.

As for Hindutva, anyone who suggests BJP against it, does not want BJP to win. With not more than 20% students going for Higher education in India (GER as of 2013-14), the prospect of attracting people with Right Wing macroeconomic principles is limited. On the other hand, Indians do not need to be taught to understand Socialist economics. It's simple - "You need freebies, freebies are your right, WE will get you freebies, vote for us". But then, people, more-so the simpletons, relate with the pride of being Hindu. Hindutva, is the answer to socialist propaganda even as people take their time to come to terms with macroeconomic considerations.

During the campaign, I talked to auto-walas, rickshaw-walas, wage labourers etc, other than house-owning middle classes. Freebies made sense to all. I would frequently come off as insensitive to poor while pushing hard to explain why freebies are bad, but they all related with the Hindu pride. They all accepted that AAP was trying hard to appease minorities. It struck a chord.

It is also noteworthy that a resurgent India needs not just change, but also progress and not just progress but also pride. The strains of Hindu revival as evident on SM, are spearheaded by the upsurging, aspirational, young enthusiastic middle-class men and women. Cultural nationalism appeals to all those who seek pride in their being. That said, the dominant messengers of the day are still left leaning. Subtlety in passing the message and avoiding unnecessary acrimony and bad press should be the key. Minorites must be assured that Hindutva is not directed against them. Hindutva is inclusive of them and is rather happy to have them share its legacy. In the age of accountability, people need messages sent out by more than mere posturing. The ground volunteers and not attention-grabbing, chest-thumping self-proclaimed mascots, better be interpreting, explaining and disseminating this message.

Development was the key to winning LS-2014 and development agenda should be the most prominent message sent across all communication channels. It appeals to all classes, sections, regions and cultures that make India. Development alone, and not appeasement or apology as practiced by the self-certified secular parties, will help win over whatever minority support the BJP might get. Delhi BJP bungled by having a high-level vision document rather than a well-researched manifesto, that too at the eleventh hour. The electorate might not read the manifesto, but an absence of one does tell people that enough thought has not been put in. It gives the contenders opportunities to portray BJP as presumptuous, over-confident and taking people for granted.

Looking back, learning forth:

The design of the political chessboard is changing. Old moves will not work with the new design. And frankly, old moves did not work on the old board either. Delhi election was managed by BJP the way elections were managed by them before 2014. The results were little different, only worse.

Actually speaking, in the Indian political space as of now, there is BJP and then there is every other party. Theoretically, with Delhi the anti-BJP political class have found a way of holding up BJP. For BJP and its supporters, elections are battles for hope and glory. For the anti-BJP, these are battles for their own survival. They are likely to make bigger compromises and they are making such compromises.

Indians are still not averse to socialist economics, they are only averse to the old proponents of Socialism. Change the faces and socialism starts afresh. The anti-BJP political class might well find their mascot in Mr. Kejriwal with his carefully cultivated 'honest' and 'aam admi' image.

Mr. Kejriwal, the technical man, if empowered, will evidently focus exclusively on technical aspects like messaging, rather than on value aspects or actual governance. The BJP can ignore him only at its own peril. BJP will have to put its house in order and get the basics of public communication right.

I believe, any message can be registered with people provided the communication channels are operationalized and strengthened. Difficult-to-set narratives only take more persistence. AAP surged ahead from the dump truck of obsolescence to win Delhi with their persistence. However, BJP had communicated better than all others put together, during LS-2014, they can do so again. With a national presence, ever increasing membership, good governance track records, the financial and technical wherewithal and inspirational leadership, BJP is better disposed to dominate Indian political discourse.

BJP was vain as the fight for Delhi set in. It was reduced to a mere challenger, not even a credible opposition after the elections. But the debacle of vanity can give way to grace. The strengths of BJP are its internal democracy and greater responsiveness vis-a-vis other parties. It is riding on hopes and has shown promise thus far. I'm hopeful that the BJP will learn from Delhi. I'm hopeful they'll show grace. And I'm hopeful they'll win big again.

The End

(Declaration: The author is a BJP supporter, member and volunteer. The views in this article are based on news reports and on-ground experiences while campaigning during Delhi elections)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winning Delhi: Part 3 - Channels and Methods

[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 1 - The Narrative]
[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 2 - The Volunteer Force]

Doston... Media bik chuki hai
 (Friends... the media is sold out)

Said Mr. Kejriwal, not once, not twice but on every nearly opportunity he got to talk about the media. He wanted to imprison media persons (youtube video) and most recently, he made it clear that if not for his own promotion or attacking his opponents, Media is a pariah (link)! And yet we all know his is a party without a precedent, created and nurtured by the media, it managed to form a govt in Delhi not once but twice in a space of one year. We wonder why, and more importantly how he manages to find favors with the media, why does media publicity help him more than others and why is AAP relatively less affected than others by media criticism, at least as far as Delhi is concerned?

Mass-Media is just one element in the scheme of messaging for mass outreach and we shall explore its role and standing in the larger context.

The Channels:

In electoral campaigning, Media (print and Television) has always been of importance. It's potential has been widely acknowledged by all parties so much so that they resorted to paying for favorable news. Social Media, though with a reach much less than convention print and TV, is emerging as potent means of opinion formation and is growing very fast. The mainstay of AAP campaign in Delhi this time around has been its Foot Soldiers (recruitment discussed in Winning Delhi: Part 2) who worked tirelessly for over 3-4 months, wearing the AAP campaign on their heads.

Print and TV media:

Mass media has always been potent in setting the course of street-corner discussions and general public opinion. Media has the ability to influence opinions of even those who do not subscribe to newspapers or watch news on TV, specially in Urban centers. The emergence of Social Media has challenged mass media to some extent but MSM's (mainstream media) influence has not been decisively undermined yet.

The entrenched Indian media is predominantly left oriented for reasons which warrant independent analysis. It does not take much to notice that BJP, being the strongest party with Right Wing traits in India, is anathema to most of MSM. Most media commentators also seem to have personal revulsion for anything that looks saffron, sounds Hindu and feels indigenous. With the citadels of the grand old dynastic socialist party desecrated by the BJP over and over, they went all out to back the only potential challenger to BJP in Delhi, AAP.

AAP also managed to include in its coterie media celebs. Some like Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan joined their ranks, others continue to help them overtly. SM exposes biases of these media celebs almost on a daily basis. Breakaway AAPians also testify to these media biggies being in cahoots with Mr. Kejriwal.

The resultant of these factors was that the media went out and out to give a piggyback ride to AAP during Delhi elections. AAP's stunts were glorified, their fallacies kid-gloved, their opponents choke-slammed. Media turned Mr Kejriwal into everything desirable, from a crusader for honesty to a yoga model. Hell, they even gave his humble barber a prime time show!

Social Media:

AAP has always focused on media and messaging and Social Media has been an integral part of their campaign from the IAC days. They have a dedicated team including everything from social media analysts, observers, photoshoppers and trolls to bots. Social Media is effective in challenging and running counter narratives to the main-stream media if need be.

I had observed in an earlier post how they are attempting to coordinate the Social Media behavior and narrative of their supporters (link). Some AAP insiders on SM like the handle @AAPleaks on twitter also testify to AAP's attempts of organizing and regulating Social Media conduct of AAP leaning handles. These attempts include monitoring and troll attacks on prominent pro-BJP handles.

Foot Soldiers:

Arguably the most effective medium of communication as far as the Delhi elections were concerned. We had seen in the previous write-up how AAP raised an army of numerous dedicated volunteers for Delhi. Many of these volunteers worked full-time, reaching out to everyone from slums-dwellers, students to households. They were well coordinated and carried to the electorate, the AAP narrative. They proved to be effective bulwarks against any criticism of AAP in MSM or on Social Media and reached out where the media didn't. Over a period of 3-4 months through effective Geobbelessian propaganda, they managed to sell to the electorate the baked truths and colored perceptions that were part of the AAP narrative (described in Part 1).


As narrated earlier, AAP started well in time with their foot-soldiers and SM enthusiasts swinging into action. As early as Jan 2014 AAP had managed to establish an organization in Delhi with high granularity. Responsibilities were allocated up to the booth level.

From my contacts among AAP volunteers, I know that they had fairly regular meetings with lot of downward communication, sloganeering, "Sab mile hue hain" (they are all are in cahoots), "Sab bike hue hain" (they're all sold out) etc. What these meetings achieved were solidarity among volunteers, connect between leaders and volunteers, effective allocation of responsibilities and dissemination of desired narrative. Anyone who's known to have used their brains beyond the AAP narrative is also known to have left AAP. My own experience narrated here.

The enthusiastic students volunteers, many from well-off families and reputed universities in Delhi, absorbed by the romanticism of revolutionary changes, proved to be wonderful brand ambassadors for AAP. They were ready to be innovative, to chase dreams, to rally hard. They organized street plays, flash-mobs, campaigned with their guitars and drums in slums, held "swachhta abhiyaans" (cleanliness drives) in slums and colonies alike and created a perception that "AAP is doing something". Their approach to campaign would resemble scenes picked straight out of revolution-romanticizing  Bollywood movies like "Yuva", "Main Azad hu" etc and had a high visual appeal. Young boys and girls from well-off families cleaning slum streets would foster the notion that boundaries between rich and poor are finally shattering and that AAP is the one to do it.

These presentable youngsters trained through meetings, email updates, newsletters would also go door-to-door, ready with their planned and targeted narrative, connect with the middle-class and try to convince them. It is generally held that most households were approached more than once in the 3-4 months, apart from the sabhas, nataks and rallies.

It is my observation, and it might well be correct, that the SM attitude of the AAP supporters was coherent. I had very few AAPians trolling me over their criticism as compared to their obscene virulence before the LS-2014 elections. SM users would also agree that AAPians were more successful at making regular trends on twitter in the run-up to Delhi elections. Though speculative, it would be reasonable to assume that AAP is attempting organization and coherence in the virtual space as well. Contrast this with the BJP supporters ranging from exclusively economic right wingers to hard-core Hindutva enthusiasts locking horns every now and then.

The mass media has always been publicly held as conspiratorial by AAP, even as they made strong personal and ideological connections with the same media, behind the scenes. It arguably worked to the advantage of AAP for a considerable segment of the electorate. I believe that is how they intended for it to work. For any criticism the foot-soldiers and SM volunteers would propel the notion, "Did we not tell you that the media is sold out?". For accolades coming their way, it would be, "Even the sold out media cannot hide this goodness of AAP". It must be noted that even as the Media played up AAP, through alternate channels and planned narrative, AAP was prepared to counter and bypass mass media.

All this presents a formidable picture of AAP's preparation for Delhi elections, and results would suggest that the preparation was indeed formidable. But I wish to clarify here that the picture brought out is idealized in favor of AAP. Not everywhere did the campaign manage to work like a well-oiled machine. My attempt has been to bring out the strengths of AAP's campaign. For if a counter has to be prepared, it must be against the strongest possible and most fortuitous elements of their campaign.

Having nearly circumscribed AAP's campaign, it would be useful to identify how BJP managed to ensure its rout. Also, what it could have possibly done to win the day and what it might consider doing in future. I will be taking it up in the fourth and last part of this series.

Continued by [Winning Delhi: The Vain Challlenger [Final Part]]

(Declaration: The author is a BJP supporter, member and volunteer. The views in this article are based on news reports and on-ground experiences while campaigning during Delhi elections)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winning Delhi: Part 2 - The Volunteer force

[Link to Winning Delhi: Part 1 - The Narrative]

BJP's victory was wildly celebrated  and their tenure began with lots of hopes. It wasn't long before the first challenge showed up. In July-August of 2014, the streets of Mukherjee Nagar in Delhi were thronged with students from the Hindi belt, demanding postponement of the UPSC Civil Services prelims exams and a change (as allegedly promised) in the prelims pattern. There were demonstrations, sit-ins, roads were blocked by agitating students and then lathi-charge was ordered!

Many of these students from UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana had held the saffron flag high and campaigned for BJP earlier. They were proud that the new government owes its majority to the whitewash in their respective states. The 'Cultural Nationalist' government, it was hoped would be sympathetic to the cause of Hindi medium students (to which I was sympathetic to an extent). The new government however did not relent and their handling of the issue was botched up in many ways. Speculations of Arun Jaitley opposing any recourse and Rajnath Singh ordering the lathi-charge after promising positive action during election campaigns in UP, did not help the BJP's image. The lathi-charges hurt more than just their bodies.

Of all parties perceptibly insinuating and fueling the agitation, AAP was the most effective in capitalizing on them. AAP articulated the problem sympathetically where they could, including their official website (link here). This agitation gave AAP 5000-7000 volunteers (based on on-ground estimates) of their total volunteer force of around 40,000 (reported here) used for the Delhi campaign. Many of these neo-volunteers will likely carry the AAP flag in UP and Bihar also and it shall be claimed that the Modi government is hypocritical about Cultural Nationalism & its commitment to development of UP and Bihar.

The Volunteer force:

The above case is one instance of AAP identifying and making good the opportunity at hand. This was one rich harvest of volunteers. Other than this one instance AAP has grabbed every opportunity to intervene in community issues, if not by doing something real, then by making noisy, noticeable protests. They've protested against police (their favorite), Jal Board, MCD and any other organ of the state possible. These protests, though widely ridiculed and effectively useless, actually made many people believe that "at least they are doing something" and each protest helped them harvest new volunteers even as some disillusioned ones left.

Another factor in AAP's favor is the choice of their ideology. Edmund Burke had keenly observed:

He who is not a republican at twenty compels one to doubt the generosity of his heart; but he who, after thirty, persists, compels one to doubt the soundness of his mind

The leftist locus of the AAP, very naturally finds resonance with youngsters. An estimated 3.6 lakh new voters got the franchise since April 2014. Many of these contributed as volunteers and evidently most voted for AAP. The young volunteers, mostly students from well-off families would be the most effective campaigners, as we shall see in the next part.

Another effective trick employed by AAP was to approach voters in blocks, religious, social and professional. AAP's closeness with Muslim clerics and community leaders is no secret. Some meetings happened with common knowledge, others (rumored) behind closed doors. The election results somewhat verify these claims. Approximately 78% of muslims voted for AAP. Muslims evidently have strong community preferences in politics in India. Community leaders thus, are potent opinion makers. It was a smart move that ensured both reach and penetration for AAP in the community.

Similarly, AAP approached and ensured support of autorickshaw unions who campaigned for them with AAP posters and flags on their autos, even while they were at work. Other than the speeches, campaigns, spreading paranoia and making promises, AAP's general approach was to reach out to organized social, religious and professional groups rather than looking at voters as amorphous or loosely-bound entities. It helped that they were supported by the Communist groups, who had the pretext of 'keeping communal forces at bay'. With them, they brought any and all of the trade unions, workers' unions and student unions over which they exercised influence.

Two things that AAP worked well, were understanding the demographics of Delhi and choosing the ideology. It must be noted that unions or social-communal blocks are formed of and driven by insecurities. For Muslims and Christians it could be insecurity due to possibility of majority domination, for trade unions, it is due to possibility of capitalist and state oppression. The leftist ideology, is a defining characteristic of the AAP although they deny being bound by ideologies. This ideology feeds and plays up insecurities. The skill employed by AAP was in identifying blocks and engineering the perfect combination between the target block and an appropriate narrative. They worked at it for months and their efforts gave them rich sets of volunteers with diverse affiliations. These would prove very useful in nurturing the perception of "everybody wants Kejriwal" for the impressionable middle class and young voters, when the heat of campaigning would mount.

As a subtext I would like to try and identify the nature of the beast that Mr Kejriwal's mind is. He is not so much an ideological person as he is technical. His choice of ideology in fact, is suited to the ends he desires. His famed "U-turns" are not exceptions to rule but the very nature of his politics. He is ruthlessly directional once he has identified his target. Considerations of honesty, loyalty or consistency would not rein him in. His technical brilliance is in that he gives communication topmost priority. He designs and redesigns his communication strategy. He voraciously assesses public perception and works out appropriate narratives even if it means sacrificing consistency.  I believe there will be more U-turns and they'll keep coming. Most importantly for now, he focuses on the lowest rungs of his volunteer-base, the foot-soldiers, Social Media warriors and on skilling, organizing, reaching out and motivating them for the job.

It is for these reasons that his party gave a better performance despite many of his notable colleagues defecting and working against him. In fact their ouster served him well by strengthening his position within the party where (rhetoric apart) everyone else is a relative minnow now. Mr. Kejriwal's hold on his party is unchallenged and absolute, specially after the Delhi victory. In real terms, his stature in AAP is no different from Gandhis' in Congress, Ms. Mayawati's in BSP or Ms. Jayalalitha's in AIADMK. He commands a cult following with the volunteers as much as any of these do.

In the next part I will be exploring the use of communication channels by AAP. I will later attempt to identify what BJP could have done and can do in future to neutralize this emerging challenge.

(Declaration: The author is a BJP supporter, member and volunteer. The views in this article are based on news reports and on-ground experiences while campaigning during Delhi elections)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Winning Delhi: Part 1 - The Narrative

By 2:00 pm on the 10th of Feb, it was all but official that AAP had Delhi with the mother of all landslide electoral victories. The mighty BJP, on a victory ride since May 2014 was not just halted, its chariot was overturned in Delhi. The ignominy amplified by gloating news anchors who heaved a sigh of relief announcing what they always wanted to, "The Modi wave is finally over"! Not long after, theories were afloat on why BJP lost.

Theories attributed the loss (since Delhi results was all about BJP's loss) to myriad reasons ranging from unbridled Hindutva to a lack thereof. Some challenged the choice of Kiran Bedi as CM candidate, some blamed it on a negative campaign and one article blamed it on discipline hating Baniyas and lazy babus and then there was the favorite, "This is an indictment of Modi govt for its failure". 

It is my intention to dispel some of these theories while focusing on the communication strategy and narrative used by AAP vis-a-vis the BJP. The complete analysis will be in parts touching on the various aspects of the campaign.

Election campaigning is the art of communication. The objective of a good campaign is to establish an emotional connect with the voters, so much so, that they need no further reason to vote in favor of a party. When a party's narrative registers with people, they vote in its favor. The communication strategy is all about identifying the narrative that registers well, the channels of communication to be used and the message itself. These ingredients converge through effective methods of dissemination of the message, set to the narrative, using available channels.

Exploring AAP's communication strategy:

The Narrative:

After the results a number of articles appeared on how IIT-B students helped conduct a sentiment analysis based on inputs from Social Media. Such softwares are not unknown to the BJP IT cell, though I cannot confirm if they were used for the Delhi election.

This analysis helped AAP form their narrative during campaign. What comes out of an on the ground study of voter perception is that AAP managed to register the following with voters:
  • Modi is good for a central role, Delhi needs someone who understands their local problems.
  • People have seen both the BJP and Congress and there is little difference between the two. Let us give the new guy a chance. [Incidentally the last time BJP was in power in Delhi was in 1998, yet voters were convinced they'd seen enough.]
  • Modi ji is good but a strong opposition is important for keeping check on him anyway. AAP, as an anti-corruption crusader is apt and should be empowered for the job.
  • Modi ji is for the rich, AAP is for the poor.
The use of this narrative can be substantiated by the news of AAP using Modi's picture on its website way back in Nov 2014. This is also a pointer to the fact that AAP had already begun on structuring its narrative as early as Nov. Here's a screenshot of what AAP had put on its official page.

Among others, this narrative isolated Modi from BJP. With this smart move, AAP managed to avoid challenging people's endearment of Modi while still continuing to attack the BJP. Effectively, anything that the BJP govt at the center did or might do, which created a positive sentiment among people, could be attributed only to Modi keeping BJP aside. The theory of "Delhi votes against Modi... Modi wave is over" does not hold water. The results suggest that apart from a minor 0.9% fall BJP has retained its vote share and the votes that Modi got for BJP, riding his wave, are still with BJP. There's no love lost for Modi. BJP Delhi lost because it did not build up on what the Modi wave did for them and allowed AAP to pull all anti-BJP votes, swing votes, communal voting blocks and first time voters in its favor.

This Modi-BJP distinction opened up the BJP for AAP's attacks with the usual "Saare bhrasht hain... Sab mile hue hain ji... Cong-BJP sab ek hi hain... etc" (They're all corrupt... They are all in cahoots... Congress & BJP are one and the same.. etc). The thing about reason is that it is not absolute, there's my reason and there's yours. While this narrative might not impress incorrigible BJP supporters on SM, it did appeal to the average Delhiites' reason. 

This narrative also allowed AAP to remain consistent with its attack on everything under the sky, not wearing the AAP-topi. The BJP, RSS, Congress, media, business houses, bureaucrats, police etc were all attacked preemptively and consistently, as is typical of the AAP. AAP's perennial victim status was reinforced. The hopes tied to "Ache din" were made specific to Delhi and neutralized. As in Marxist literature, people were imparted "the subjective realization of objective truth". The objective truth being AAP's standard leftist narrative, where people are victims. The victim electorate would readily identify with the victim party.

India does not need to be trained for Socialist expectations. In the 67 years since independence, we've had successive governments contesting elections on socialist promises and running socialist-style economies. Even the ABV led government dwindled between left and right to satisfy all stakeholders. 

That said, freebies never ceased to be attractive to a large section of Indians. Reforms towards a free market economy are still unattractive and short sight is still the normal range of sight for a large section. Revolutionary change and magical solutions to all real-life problems are still romantic to most of us. AAP, like all other parties realizes this, but unlike the rest exploited it in their manifesto and created a picture of the promised land.

The strength of AAP's narrative was also that it was carefully targeted. The 70 promises made in their manifesto attempted to cover every possible social/economic/cultural section of Delhi. While free WiFi appealed to youngsters and most of the first time voters, free electricity and water appealed to the households. The stylishly intellectual middle class was impressed by the responsibility of giving India a strong opposition, thrust on them. Weaker sections believed in "Modi-for-rich AAP-for-poor".

However merely having an effective narrative is not enough. It needs to be taken to people and imprinted on their conscience. In later parts I shall be discussing the communication channels, volunteer pooling and the campaign method combining all the ingredients. Not much can be said about BJP's campaign except that they did not do most of what AAP did, yet BJP's efforts will be evaluated in contrast.

(Declaration: The author is a BJP supporter, member and volunteer. The views in this article are based on news reports and on-ground experiences while campaigning during Delhi elections)