Why Nitish-Laloo won the Battle for Bihar?

09 Nov,2015


By Tushar Panchal


Ab ki baar, haath se gaya Bihar! 


There are many oracles in our industry, who could give you amazing insights into why JDU+ winning and NDA losing the Bihar election with all types of facts, figures and information that common people such as you and me are not aware of. As far as I am concerned, the formula of winning election is as simple as a very seasoned political party founder of Maharashtra once said: “In elections, opposition never wins, ruling party always loses.” There’s a very profound message in this simple statement.


In my opinion, which is largely based on my close interaction with political leaders across the spectrum and interacting with people (or should I say voters) across the length and breadth of our wonderful country, the most important aspect of any communication campaign for election revolves around the humbleness and your ability to connect with the people on ground. All media blitzkrieg, larger than life hoardings, massive rallies are no substitute for a gentle reminder that I am one amongst you and I have always worked for you and will continue to work for you.


As a student of human psychology, I have always been intrigued by society’s willingness to support the underdog, believe in someone, who is closer home, wears clothes just like you do, eat the same meal as you do, wronged by someone who is powerful and mighty. We have always loved David vs. Goliath stories. Amitabh is one of the greatest superstar, Arvind Kejriwal is Delhi Chief Minister and Narendra Modi is our Prime Minister today… all thanks to this very human nature of connecting with someone, who is vulnerable and here Brand Nitish has taken that positioning in the minds of the people of Bihar.


Was there a flaw in the communication strategy which the losing side didn’t read?


Nitish had learned his lessons early on (as soon as he tasted defeat in the General Elections) and realised that the elections cannot be won by just trumpeting the bugle of development, especially when there’s a formidable competition from BJP with their impressive  track record of development in the states, where they were/are in power. Nitish learnt this quick and developed his own concoction, which didn’t just have a heady dose of development, but was spiked with societal insecurities and Bihari pride.


On the other hand, the NDA didn’t have anything special to offer. It couldn’t decide on who the Chief Minister candidate could be, it couldn’t decide whether bringing in Holy Cow in the campaign mix would help or bringing in a cracker of an idea about celebrations in Pakistan would help. Rising prices, poor handling of sensitive issues such as OROP added to the misery of the BJP. Shifting loyalties of campaign managers who worked for BJP during general elections was probably the last straw that broke the camel’s back.


The NDA bosses got the taste of their own medicine – similar messages and familiar actions, which they have used successfully in the past to win elections, came back to haunt them to serve the defeat they anticipated (and even expected) as soon as the campaign started.


Remember what we communicators always say, “First the message, second the messenger and last the medium.”  NDA lost on all three. And we must remember what great Abraham Lincoln has said and I have taken a creative liberty to modify to suit what we have witnessed today: You can fool all the voters some of the time, and some of the voters all the time, but you cannot fool all the voters all the time.


Over to Assam now!


Tushar Panchal, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Strategic Communications at Adfactors PR, has seen politics and political communications from close quarters, having worked behind the scenes for shaping many successful communication campaigns for political parties, political leaders, heads of state governments and governments. The views here are his own.


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One response to “Why Nitish-Laloo won the Battle for Bihar?”

  1. alok says:

    Good analysis. Hope Nitish continues to focus on developing Bihar and Laloo and his ilk’s caste politics is kept at bay.

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