Has Modi’s Brand-I taken a beating?

13 Dec,2018


By Sanjeev Kotnala


The results of the five state elections are out. Many are surprised and many are iterating, they have predicted this resurgence of Congress. Meanwhile, there is a big debate if the aura of Narendra Modi’s Brand-I has taken a beating.
It is a subject of debate and argument, if these state elections will have bearing on the national election in 2019. State elections are more nearer to the ground and reflect the widening expectation gap in the voter’s mind-space. BJP had senior leaders including the PM doing a spate of rallies across states. Hence, Incumbency or otherwise, central leaders too will have to introspect the verdict.
One of the Giant Monolith images that must have been taken a beating is that of Modi, the PM and Amit Shah the shrewd political manipulator also nicknamed Chanakya of this era.
On the other side ‘Papu Pass Ho gaya’. The image of Congress President, Rahul Gandhi has definitely seen an upswing. Expectations from Rahul Gandhi leading the 2019 election to win are now high with MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the bag. But first he has a test of deciding on Rajasthan leadership with two strong contenders.
The fundamental plank of ‘Jawan and Kissan’ and their issues in states seem to have won. Meanwhile the ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ and ‘de-notification’ will be discussed and dissected in the days to come.
Leave aside how the Brand Modi has been working on international stage. International coordination has no impact on the voters who define the results. The intricacies and the impact of the chain of international alliances are lost on common people. In fact this too much of ‘On Tour PM’ is seen as alienating and scheming by the voters.
Every TG has a point to pick with Modi Brand. Only the die-hard loyalist has some points of understated appreciation.
The delay in Ram Mandir, the handling of farmer agitation, the 56th inch proud chest, the language used, again ‘de-monetisation’ and ‘Gabbar SinghTax’. The opening of an on-going half completed projects all add to a sense of disenchantment.
Modi image suffers from two common problems Brand-I is face with.
It is really the perceived gap of over promise and expectations.
The first is ‘What you claim and how you behave’.
The second ‘How you think you are performing vs. what the TG thinks how you are performing’.
Brand images are contextual and comparative in nature. And in a binary situation the brand images tend to be inversely associated with the opponent. So whenever Modi Brand (say Modi-Amit Shah co-existing brand) takes a beating the benefit goes to the next option. Modi brand is more are seen as benefiting selective business, as tainted as any other party and a perfect case have over promise-under delivery. It is never the best thing. Someone has to talk about brand promise- customer delight and consistency to this brand.
Rahul Gandhi has been benefiting in this context and this election has suddenly put him in front of the race from the other side of the Modi fence. It is not going to be easy. Brand image repair takes time. Let us hope for Modi and the country that the voters are able to differentiate between the need and difference between a state and national election.
One thing that has worked for the Brand Modi and what it can use to get the shine is closing the issue of tempering with EVMs. Maybe politically there could be more to read in the minor sacrifices of states and political aspirants.
As BJP remains a strong opposition in MP and Rajasthan, its role in the next few months could be sued to add another coat to the MODI’s IMAGE OF BEING FAIR AND DEMOCRATICALLY INCLINED.



Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior media strategist and educator. The views here are personal



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