How to taste success in elections ?

How to taste success in elections ?

              Any political system forms a part of the larger social structure of society. The famous media scholar Walter Lippman once said – ‘When all think alike, no one thinks very much’. This holds true for public opinion in any democracy. Public opinion is an important aspect of any democracy, much more so in a country like India. The election process in India is multifaceted in nature, and an election: State or National, can play a big role if one understands the dynamics and tenets of voter behavior. As simple it may sound, it isn’t all that easy as one thinks of it to be?

              Political parties are geographically spread across states through Status, objectives, ideology, functions, social support, organization etc. Most political parties have an ideological outlook oriented to identify the social and economic goals, and programs in society. Indian society is stratified on the basis of caste, class, and gender. There are legal insiders and legal outsiders which makes over 90% of India’s population heterogenous. There are Hindus, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Parses and many other tribes in India. The basis for the study of any political process is to keep in mind the aspect of caste, and hierarchy which is sanctioned. Sociologists and Political scientists have studied this aspect of Indian politics for a long time. An election too has a similar route undertaken in understanding voter behavior.

              The election process requires a study of our elected representatives, the various constituencies (Centre or State), and more so in dealing strategically with the aspect of public opinion. Every political party proposes an election manifesto pitched out to the public, and then the citizens cast their vote for a party or candidate. However, if a political party needs to pitch its voice to the citizens, it is imperative that the research done ought to be sound and empirical. Newspapers, Television Channels, and think tanks conduct research and interviews in many areas. Fact-finding and empirical research can be tricky at times as many news houses do have a political affiliation and they are likely to give a result that suits a particular objective. Then the narrative changes accordingly!

               However, specialized agencies do have campaign specialists and senior political strategists that conduct research on an ad hoc basis for every goal that is needed. There are very few agencies that specialize in political consulting and strategy. Great thinkers and leaders are part of this process in predicting voter behavior, and the research which is done could be empirically validated. These agencies conduct research and formulate strategies that are constituency-centric. The grassroots opinion with party workers and citizens gives a whole new dimension to the aspect of research. There is also constituency and voter-based profiling done with every campaign. Another trend is to understand the profile of each voter and target the message based on their background, beliefs, and attitudes. A selective approach in understanding the various facets of an election process is the hallmark of a great political strategist.

              Every political party requires the help of an agency, and a visionary political strategist to plan and profile their constituencies according to the desired objectives for an upcoming election. If there is no planning in place, then the process can bring about a catch-22 situation, leading to a disaster. Psephology and campaign needs are the focus of discussion, in many states. Our democracy is so multi-cultural and plural, that planning starts months before an election. General elections have their own challenges, and State elections do have their own flavor, which requires the expertise of sound political strategy and consulting.

              In a democracy like India, which is so diverse, political consulting is the need of the hour. Strategy and planning can definitely bring about a change in the election process, having an impact on the minds of various citizens. This only enables greater reach and trust between elected representatives and voters, ultimately making the democratic process more efficient and transparent!

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