Packaged politics is here to stay: Book (With Image)

May 25th, 2009 - 11:17 am ICT by IANS  

By James Jose
New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The recently concluded general election, in addition to being the world’s largest democratic exercise involving 714 million voters and costing over $2 billion, was also a marketing war, with political parties trying to woo voters with the latest media techniques and business strategies.

Putting to practice techniques taught at B-schools to upstage competition, campaign managers used everything from the rudimentary 4 Ps of marketing - product, price, place and promotion - to latest marketing ideas for a digital generation, says Arun Kumar, a senior official in the Himachal Pradesh government, in his new book.

The book, titled “Political Marketing in India”, tries to unravel the marketing practices in Indian politics and the gimmicks played out to create or change a politician’s image, apart from analysing voter behaviour. It is published by Regal Publications, New Delhi, and priced at Rs.1,380.

“With shrinking ideological bonding and increase in voter volatility, political parties have started resorting to management practices - each aimed at winning the favour of the voters,” says Kumar.

“Political marketing is here. It has become an integral part of the electioneering,” says Kumar in his book that is laden with anecdotes and examples of how politicians market their images among the masses.

“Laloo Prasad, after becoming the chief minister of Bihar in 1990, started staying in his brother’s residence - a two-room quarter. This antic of Prasad was covered by all newspapers. He later went on to become a messiah for the poor,” remarks Kumar.

In his research, the author also tries to identify the factors that contribute to the winnability quotient of a particular candidate, and says: “Media savvy candidates have a head start over others.”

Also, when it comes to editorial comments versus advertisements, a few good words in a newspaper about a particular candidate certainly seems to tilt the scales in his or her favour.

“The credibility of the media is more than that of political parties. The indications are clear. The role of media will become more important in the times to come.”

Kumar says consultancy for politicians and political parties is an emerging business that is attracting more and more politicians now.

“In the next 25 years, political consultancy is tipped to become the second largest in the world. More and more technologically advanced and tested management techniques will be used to crack the riddle called the elections,” he says.

The bureaucrat-author rounded off saying: “Of course, like a bad product, a bad political-product will not win the day - notwithstanding applications of any alchemic substance, leave aside marketing techniques.”

(James Jose can be contacted at james.jose@ians.in)

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