It started with the Gujarat assembly elections, inched forward with Budget 2018, was fuelled at the India Today Conclave with Sonia Gandhi’s famous words, gathered steam post the Naresh Agrawal episode, became louder after the by-polls loss, seemed to have a life of its own with the No-Confidence Motion threat, and finally it unravelled with the Cambridge Analytica episode.
To all of us who have been able to distance ourselves from the unfolding series of events, the opposition’s hand is fairly visible and predictable. The opposition seemed to have discovered the Elixir of life at long last, that would resuscitate a moribund and rapidly decaying Congress party, as long as they can cobble together a few by-election, Municipal wins, Temple Runs, Caste fractures, Regional fractures etc, all courtesy Cambridge Analytica Brain wave.
They have been using these disparate ray of hopes (for them at least) to fan their rhetoric across Social Media, disseminated through their well-entrenched, seemingly innocuous handles. These apparent “logical” conclusions are picked up by self-serving, pseudo Right-Wing handles, in an effort to whip up support for their burgeoning political ambitions.
Nothing wrong with that at all! I mean why would anyone object if the opposition and a rag-tag coalition of deluded individuals suffering from hubris, chose to live in an alternate universe. To all intents and purposes, we are after all progressing, from being a nation of “lotus-eaters” to it being the way of existence only for the opposition and co.
These strategic moves by opposition on the political chess board of India have left many of us Right Wingers wondering what went wrong. Thankfully the agenda peaked and unravelled a little too soon. But, even if it had not there were loads of clues in our past election results to give comfort to those of us who were excessively troubled by the recent slew of events and the media coverage. All that one has to do to see-through the brouhaha is to look at the past elections. And what role, if any did the public perception, perception across media channels have to do with eventual electoral wins or losses.
Take for instance the 2004 elections. Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our economy was doing fantastic and spurred on by this economic success the General Elections for 2004 was called on early. NDA’s 2nd term in office was virtually ensured. All the media houses channels in run-up to the 2004 elections were screaming themselves hoarse, calling NDA’s India Shinning campaign a winner eventually sealing a decade of Sangh-Parivar rule and a quick extremely humiliating defeat for the congress.
What eventually happened is very well known. The 2004 elections heralded a decade of a corrupt government steeped in nepotism, as UPA romped home with 225 seats with external support from the Left front, while the NDA was reduced from 299 seats in 1998 elections to 189 seats in 2004. This was a shocker of a result going by the trail of exit polls and the expectations whipped up in media studios. This was not the last time when the media houses would get it so wrong.
The argument that 2004 was an outlier event was further undermined with the 2009 elections. In the run up to the 2009 elections, Manmohan Singh lost the support of the Left parties and hobbled into an election, which was slated to be a close contest, only to emerge a bigger, stronger party in 2009. The UPA alliance was able to romp home with 322 seats and a comfortable majority. The congress itself had around 260 seats belying expectations of it being a closely contested election.
If one wanted to, one could extrapolate and figure out even more glaring diversions from the actual election results over a longer period of time. But, as off now these two elections should suffice in making the larger point. The point that election after election, the media seems to be getting as many predictions right as it is getting them wrong.
In fact, the mere fact that the Congress party under Rahul Gandhi has higher a data analysis firm with a detailed plan to coerce, convince citizens using the social media channels, points to a paradigm shift in the way electorate will be influenced. With each passing day the Social Media does a better and better job of predicting events, disseminating news and with each successive day, the traditional media loses a few more viewers/readers.
But, even social media cannot amplify an empty rhetoric and make it great. The ground level reality has to live up to the hype in the media. That alone is the biggest weakness in the congress armour, after 70 years of rule and now a new found social media outreach program all they have to show as work is a bagful of slogans and empty promises. For instance, the “Garibi Hatao” slogan was launched in 1971 by Indira Gandhi and yet 47 years later her grandson Mr. Rahul Gandhi is still trying to fight elections on the same platform. The sins of the past have, it seems caught up with the party as it tries to battle am increasingly efficient and transparent Modi government while fighting concurrently on trends and slogans in Social Media.
Each such skirmish initially seems to be going the congress way only to mutate and become a potent weapon in the hands of the BJP. What does not help the congress cause at all, is that the last modicum of efficiency and work was under the Narsimha Rao’s able leadership. A leader that congress party maligned and dissociated itself with in haste. Finally, it seems that consequence of ostracizing Narsimha Rao has caught up with the congress party.
Over time this 70-yearlong inefficiency and anti-incumbency will only magnify with each social media outreach that the Congress party plans in the run up to 2019. All that us RWs and Congress haters have to do is to not fall prey to the manufactured storm in tea cups for the time being!