Are Political Parties Commercializing the 2009 General Elections?

Surely the General elections 2009 is unprecedented in many respects. Firstly, never before has India voted in such a humongous number, as it would be doing this time. With around 700 million eligible voters, no doubt we are not only the biggest but the magnanimous democracy on earth. Secondly, the amount of money that would be spent this year on the General elections, is not even remotely comparable to any other event that has taken place in recent times. This transaction would put Obama’s so-called costly campaign to shame.


Thirdly, and most importantly, the issues that are being put up and hopefully would be dealt with are quite different then the past elections. For once, the common man is in a commanding position. Citizen’s charter and activation has made sure that politicians are no longer taking usfor granted.


The best part is that all the major candidates and their parties have taken a due note of this changing sentiment of the voter. They have realised that the “aam aadmi” is no longer so “aam”. A recent survey by IMRB Int. and Synovate, done across the country threw some very interesting results. 59% of the voters feel that the primary motive of most politicians is to make money. Shockingly, 54% voters feel that the political class will have no choice but to improve this time.


These facts have forced the candidates and their parties to rethink and redraw their strategies to woo the voters. Quite a lot of unconventional modes of communication are being tried and tested this time. SMS, internet, TV, radio, interactions, PR activities, and events- you name it, and they have done it. This activation reminds me about the campaigns and activities undertaken for a new product launch, wherein, organisations go all out to promote a brand.


All these activities, however, coaxes me to ask, “Have political parties become a product and the voters, the consumers buying it?”


Surely, there is little doubt about it. What is a product after all? It is the thing which satisfies the needs of a customer, whether latent or expressed. And what is an MP expected to do? Probably, satisfy the needs and wants of his/her voters. When a product is to be launched, the strategic heads sit together to chalk out a strategy which will position the product correctly in the minds of the consumers. The same holds true for political parties as well. Infact this is what they have been doing of lately. The other day when I came across a banner showing Mr. Arun Jaitley, promoting a BJP campaign named Friends of BJP , I could not but marvel at the brilliant strategy. The event was targeted at the nation’s driving force the youth. It did not stop there, though. The campaign manifested itself also, in the form of a website, wherein people can voice their opinions, views, problems and much more. What a way to mobilize people in your favour!!


Many political parties are seeking help of reputed PR agencies in their campaigns as well. They want to communicate to their prospective voters and are making sure to keep no stone unturned in doing so.


But in this political blitzkrieg what everyone seems to forget that a product would not be successful until and unless it conveys its utility correctly to the consumer.


And what do we consumers expect of the product called Political parties? Well, quite simply put in, lots of things. Although run by aged politicians and bureaucrats, India is a young nation. Thus the average demand of a voter is very much shaped by the youth’s ideas and ideologies.


To start with, today’s voter wants a secured future-both in terms of financial as well physical security. The political parties should try and create job opportunities and convey it. We, the youth need honest people who can make India develop. We need a young and dynamic leader who can come up with fresh ideas and thus break from the clutter. Today’s India would not like to live in the constant fear it is living with now. Strong internal security measures are needed. And the parties should make sure they provide it.

The parties need to convey that they would be accountable to each and every citizen of India. They will take the responsibility of making it known to the citizens, where and how the taxpayer’s money is being spent.


A lot of us are interested in joining politics and change the existing mindset of people. But the question which looms large is how do we do it? Most of the big parties do not allow the youth to take over charge. It is so ironical that a country which probably has the youngest population is run by people who are at least two times older. When Rajiv Gandhi assumed power there were lot of speculations about a changing face of India. But little did anyone know that this was to be an isolated and one-of-a-kind event. Political parties need to focus on this aspect like never before.


It is only if the political parties take care of these key issues can they expect a vote in their favour. Because ultimately, it boils down to the most prominent aam aadmi sentiment-“Jo Dikhta hai woh bikta hai” (You buy only things that you see)!!


Souvik Mitra

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