How brand Modi plays in LS polls | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, April 05, 2019

How brand Modi plays in LS polls

If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wins this spring's general election, as is widely expected, it will also be another massive victory for the marketing machine created to amplify Brand Modi into every Indian living room.

Opinion polls regularly show Modi is India's most popular politician, and to turn that appeal into votes, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pulled out all the stops from the most modern methods of communication to the very traditional.

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There is the recently launched "NaMo TV" dedicated to the 68-year-old leader, a Narendra Modi mobile app the party says has been downloaded by 100 million people, and a massive social media following across every major platform in India.

Modi and the BJP have a combined 57.5 million followers on Twitter, four times the total for the main opposition Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi.

With the campaign now in full swing, the BJP says Modi physically reaches out to more than 250,000 people a day through the many rallies he addresses.

Most of those are then carried live across multiple party platforms and news channels across India, including the nation's public broadcaster.

EARLY START

On Wednesday alone, Modi addressed as many as four rallies, starting early in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and ending late in a constituency 2,300 km (1429 miles) away in the western state of Maharashtra.

Gandhi spoke in three rallies, all in the northeast.

"The opposition is way behind the curve," said a close aide to Modi who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak with reporters. "Even before the official inauguration of the political campaign on March 28, he completed the first phase of campaigning. Now it's the second phase."

Congress accuses Modi and the BJP of misusing its powers and deep pockets to try and influence voters.

LACKING HELICOPTERS

Congress also complained in January that it was struggling to find enough helicopters to ferry its leaders because the BJP had reserved most of the available aircraft well in advance.

In 2017/18, the BJP's total income including donations stood at 10.27 billion rupees ($150 million) compared with 1.9 billion rupees for Congress, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a Delhi-based advocacy group that examines political funding and candidate disclosure forms.

“There's a huge gap between our campaign and their (Congress) campaign," BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal said. "We're much ahead in our communication, on organisational structure, outreach schemes etc."

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