India is seen as an emerging sector of election campaign management organisations. Campaign strategies formulated by organisations are driven by their understanding of who will vote for their client and why. If the organisations find that voters are not in favour, they undertake correctives.
The Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) is an organisation, which is currently working in this sector. Prashant Kishor, the brain behind this organisation, is an Indian political strategist. Before launching this organisation, he had created the Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) in 2013. He is largely credited for professionalising election campaigning in India in the last few years.
Kishor’s first major stint in the Indian political scenario was to help Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat to get re-elected to for the third time in the Gujarat state elections of 2012.
In 2015, Kishor and other CAG members regrouped as I-PAC to work with Nitish Kumar in order to help him win for the third time. Additionally, I-PAC had also worked with Congress’s Captain Amarinder Singh in the state elections of Punjab.
Kishor came into limelight in 2014, after he helped Narendra Modi to win with absolute majority in the parliament elections. Prashant Kishor was credited with formulating an innovative marketing and advertising campaign for Narendra Modi. The ‘Chai pe Charcha’ (discussion over tea) where Narendra Modi communicated with the voters directly, 3D rallies, Run for Unity, Manthan, and various social media programmes are predominantly seen as Kishor’s contributions.
What is campaign management?
The poll management organisations works as political consultants in professionalised campaigns. They manage political gatherings or rallies, organise the campaign to increase a candidate’s viability and also look into the regular events associated with the campaign trail. These organisations study constituencies and divide the voters into three parts as the candidate’s confirmed base, the opponent’s confirmed base, and the undecided or swing voters. In order to implement their strategy, they set a target of votes that can guarantee the win. These organisations help the candidates to choose important issues and try to use these issues to define the result of an election. Additionally, the provide campaign strategies. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, I-PAC had popularised the campaign line of ‘Achhe din aane waale hain’ for Narendra Modi and projected Gujarat as the most developed state and linked that to Modi’s charisma.
Politics is now about going beyond the conventional or traditional campaign methods that included rallies, organising meetings and street corners. Political parties are discovering new campaign styles using various media channels. Television, print and radio are all being extensively used by political parties and therefore the requirement of smart content has gone up. That demand is often being fulfilled by these organisations.
In the past few years, social media has played a vital role. The younger generations are exploring political memes and cartoons to air their opinions. Here, the role of political campaign management organisations is important. These organisations often come up media innovations and the required content which is consumed by social media users.
Flexibility to politics, strict to business
Prashant Kishor has gone on record stating that his organisation is not for profit. Most of the other organisations also maintain a similar stance. Despite such claims from these organisations, the fact remains they are providing specialised solutions and political parties or candidates are paying big bucks for these solutions and services.
Organisations in this segment are charting untested waters. However, it is expected with India emerging as a developed democracy, the role of these organisations will only increase in future. Their success rate will also be a defining factor.