If one goes by the example of Jharkhand which is also fairly true pan India, Opposition has apparently failed to gauge the mood of masses or at least encash upon the uprise of tribals, minorities etc which is evident when one observes the communications and branding during the ensuing polls.
Jharkhand being one of the state which witnessed series of gory incidents of lynching of minority community, sudden uprise of tribals (protests in form of Pathalgadi declaring self-rule in hinterlands and changes brought by the Raghubar Das government easing land acquisition rules for corporates and other upcoming projects), failure of Direct Benefit Transfer (Example of Nagri experience), arrogance of powers that be——among many other.
Even though a big section of Sarna and Christian tribals have been vociferous against the Raghubar Das government and BJP in the state, one of the hoarding at busy Rajendra Chowk (Doranda locality of Ranchi) suggests Modi and BJP taking claim for betterment of the adivasis which counts a good 26 per cent in the state with districts like Khunti, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega witnessing around 60-70 per cent tribals which includes both Sarna and Christians.
One of the hoarding which shows big face of Prime Minister says ‘AdivasiyonTakPahunchiVikas Ki Byar, PhirEk Bar Modi Sarkar’ (development has reached to the tribals, once again Modi government).
The communication is clear on part of BJP which portrays Modi as a vote minting machine due to his charisma mostly. In another poster, a big mug shot of Modi is positioned against the Ranchi candidate Sanjay Seth, although smaller in size. This time again the message is clear, “Modi KoMazbootKarein, Sanjay SethKo Vote Karein (Vote for Sanjay Seth to make Modi strong)
Strong contender for Ranchi parliamentary seat this time, Congress nominee and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahaionly appeals to the voters with simple taglines like ‘SaralSubodh’, AapkeSubodh’ etc which obviously lacks a traction when it comes to attract the masses.
Given the political, social and economical sufferings of the natives, messages should have been stronger from the side of main Opposition party,Jharkhand MuktiMorcha (JMM) and other allies of Mahagathbandhan in Jharkhand but the communication miserably lacks the fire needed during a elections when you are pitted against likes of Modi, BJP and their army of social media trollers, chowkidars and bhakts.
In the steel city Jamshedpur, again a big hoardings of BJP portraying Modi as their sole leader dots the skylines. One of such posters says, “Vishwa Mein SamarthyaDikhaneKeLiye, DeshKaMaanBarhaneKeLiye…. PhirEkBar Modi Sarkar”.
Ironically there is no mention of local BJP MP BidyutBaranMahto, who switched sides from JMM in 2014. It seems only Modi is fighting elections. Communication is simple and straight as the saffron party is apparently convinced of repeat of charisma of 2014. Let’s wait till May 23 whether the messages in skylines hold true on ground.
Mugshots and messages of other leaders are again missing even in print advertisements. Modi’s smiling face may be juxtaposed against the message this time, “DushmanKeGhar Mein GhuskarAatank Par KararaPrahar” in smaller fonts followed by bigger message “PhirEk Bar Modi Sarkar” in majority of dailies on April 29 where in Modi BJP appeals massed to witness Vijay Sankalp Rally of Prime Minister at Koderma parliamentary segment.
Modi’s big picture diminishes that of BJP candidate Annapurna Devi, a former RJD veteran who switched sides just before the elections. Annapurna, considered a trusted lieutenant of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, is pitted against likes of former chief minister Babulal Marandi, and CPI (ML)’s lone hope Rajkumar Yadav.
Communication war notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see how the voters decide the fate of the parties in Jharkhand. But it is for sure that Opposition need to pull up its socks with a better communication plan much before the polls as BJP does.
The author is a Public Relations and Communications specialist and had been a journalist for one and half decade in the main line media. Being a Jharkhand matter expert, He has been writing on contemporary issues.