Amith Prabhu: The Public Relations of Indian Politics

13 Jan,2014

By Amith Prabhu


The upcoming elections will be different in every way. Unlike in the recent past when there were broadly two national parties supported by allies who were regional parties, the summer of 2014 will see an upstart at the national level in the form of the Aam Aadmi Party. In the light of these changes both existing national parties have had to work out newer strategies to offer a new perspective to the public.


The Indian general elections is the arguably the biggest Public Relations exercise with multiple small parties wooing an electorate that no longer gets carried away by empty promises. Last week’s news that the Indian National Congress has hired a leading PR firm to primarily help it in its digital outreach was carried on the front page of a leading national daily. The news of Twitter hiring a gentleman who had previously tweeted against Narendra Modi also gathered uncalled for attention from the right-wingers.


The next 120 days will see a lot of interesting events which will be amplified by social media in real time and on television and in print in quick succession. This makes life of communication managers within political parties all the more difficult. One will need to have an ear to the ground, eyes wide upon and be on his or her toes during this dance of democracy.


Each party has taken a different approach to Public Relations. The frontrunner is BJP with its PM nominee – Modi, who is travelling from city to city addressing large rallies. The Congress with Rahul Gandhi is trying a different strategy of meeting smaller groups in closed door, by invitation and thematic gatherings. The new kid on the block, AAP led by Kejriwal is on a frantic membership drive targeting the man and woman on the street.


In the midst of all this, various regional chieftains also known as chief ministers have started changing their modus operandi to follow a style that is being dictated by the incumbent chief minister of Delhi. These are all Public Relations tactics that are being smartly deployed. But today’s voter has various ways to decipher who is genuine and who is not and can see through.


It is no longer a case of hoodwinking that will help politicians get by. Their walk and their talk should go hand in hand. India’s tolerance levels for empty promises and corruption are diminishing. Over the next 12 weeks I will be writing as many columns with a majority focusing on political public relations.


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