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Modi vs Rahul: Will the Modi brand rise up

Dec 11 was an important day in Indian political history as it marked the slide of the juggernaut of a brand that was on the upswing for the last 5 years

Yes, I’m speaking about the MODI brand. NAMO as his fans calls him.Arguably the best political brand India has ever seen.Someone who turned around fortunes of BJP which was looking lost.

Brand Modi was born as a result of a mix of brilliant oratorship skills, great tact, incumbency of over 10 years, corruption and great O&M Campaign Ab ki baar Modi was born by selling hope to a junta who had seen enough of corruption and bad governance. His lines You gave Congress 60 years, give BJP just 60 months. We will change India’s future and bring about development in 60 months spread like fire through the Indian minds and pushed BJP to a thumping victory

As the Bell for 2019 Indian general elections starts ringing, Brand Modi faces what every overpromised brand has faced; standing up to harsh reality.Modi vs rahul- A SWOT analysis of what works for brand Modi against his opponent rahul gandhi


Brand Modi: Strengths:

Oratorship skills

His oratory skills were on display in his speech after demonetization. The truth is that excellent orators like Barack Obama can come from any situation and win elections. That is the single biggest reason whyBrand Modi’s has held to his old appeal. He has the ability to win over both the people and party workers on that count. His speech after demonetization was a big winner among the public to make them believe that he was doing what was right for India


As per Survey conducted by daily hunt and market research agency Nielsen who surveyed over 5 million Customers.Modi still continues to be popular with 63% saying theytrustedModi more than, or just as much as, in 2014, Over 50% said they believed Modi would bringabout a better future if given a second term.

Although Modi’s Popularity has taken a beating in last 2-3 years particularly in the southern belt, he still remains the most popular leader in India

Well Executed Government Schemes

A third strength is the schemes well begun, and which will find fruition in the second term. These are Jan Dhan bank accounts, the Ujjwala gas connection subsidy scheme, last-mile electrification of the remotest villages, rural toilets under Swachch Bharat, interest subventions for home-building in rural and urban areas, the Ayushman Bharat medicalinsurance scheme.

Went ahead with Tough Decisions

GST, Demonetisation, Buying of Raphael jets etc were very bold decisions taken by the government. Though these have their negative side as well, it was clear that unlike UPA Modi had a penchant for making tough decisions

Reduced Fiscal deficit & Inflation control

Modi govt used the additionalmoney collected from fuel taxes to reduce the fiscal deficit from 4.5 of UPA 2 to 3.4

When the Modi government took over from UPA.UPA-2 had handed it an economy with Consumer Price Inflation at 8.33 percent. As of December 2018, it is just 2.19 percent. This is despite the government holding its nerve and keeping oil prices high

Improved tax compliance

The tax to GDP ratio increased from 9 to 12 percent and overall compliance increased. At lower- and middle-class levels, the reforms in tax administration have been effective, greatly reducing human interface.

Infrastructure growth

This is clearly one part where the BJP has shown clear progress. The Narendra Modi government has set in play a new integrated infrastructure programme, which involved the building of roads, railways, waterways, and airports.

As the chart below shows this is a clear strength of this government

Infrastructure growth under modi govt

Corruption Free governance

Though Rahul Gandhi has been making 30,000 crore corruption claim on modiji, it has been a relatively corruption-free government compared to the UPA 2. The earlier regime had corruption scandals coming out too often for our comfort

Brand Modi: Weakness

Too much of focus on Competition

Brand Modi seems to be too much focused on Rahul and Congress-bashing. Even a rookie can tell that brand building happens by the focuson core product and not just by focusing on competition weakness

Baseless illogical Claims

While Modiji can boast of a strong team of advisors, his claims always look more a dream than reality

The recent claim of doubling farmers income by 2022 is one such case. Demonetisation was another major gamechanger initiative which went nowherewith its claim of stopping black money

Poor State of Agricultural sector

The track record of this Modi’s on the agricultural front has been abysmal. The average agricultural growth during the first four years was only 2.4%. The real wage of agricultural labourers grew year on year by 0.67% in this period. While there was a drought in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the government did very little to provide relief and the investment in agriculture declined in real terms. Add to this the crash in prices owing to demonetisation.

Celebrating this MSP hike as historic and calling it a game changer is overblown at best and bad economics at worst

The 50% hike in MSP is not over cost ‘C2’ as promised, but over cost ‘A2+FL’, which is considerably lower than cost C2 as it does not include the rental value of own land. Also, it’s done for the kharif marketing season for 2018-19 and no policy decision has been made to fix the MSP at 50% over the cost of production

These failures of the agricultural front are being hidden by tactics like stalling the release of data on farmer suicides for the past two years. But its effect has started showing with huge reversals in MP & Chattisgarh in recent elections

Silence towards religious vigilantism

Religious vigilantism has touched an all-time high under this government. A lot of BJP State governments brought in tough control measures against cow meat.

On May 23, 2017, centre made changes in the prevention of cruelty to animals’ act to include buffaloes,bulls,calves under cattle to choke the buffalo meat industry.Under new rules, the farmer could sell buffalo directly for slaughter but cannot sell it in the animal market. With Farmers unable to sell cattle for slaughter directly, it defied logic why animals killed in the animal market was crueler than them being handover over directly by the owner

New Rules have forced farmers to abandon the cattle leading to stray cattle in every village.This, in turn, leads to loss of crops with farmers needing to spend money for fencing to keep these at has affected the farmer’s ability to sell off and earn 30 % back which can be reinvested to get a new cattle

This rule has led to lynching, illegal transportation and created self-appointed cow vigilante groups. Violence has erupted at many states and many a time states have been silent on perpetrators.

Modiji has many times been silent on these leading to allegations of state-sponsored violence.He did speak out once but intentions of controlling the issue werenot visible

The impression of autocratic government

RBI, CBI, election commission,CIC,RTI,Supreme court,NSSO, CVC List of institutions where the government tried to wrest  control has begun to shake the very nature of democracy


Demonetisation was a decision taken in haste without the confidence of institution like RBI.Government interfering in daily roles of RBI and making decisions of having parallel regulators in place of RBI for some matters is a dangerous game.Appointment of RSS ideologue gurumurthy to the RBI board has made the intentions clearer


The Whole country had never seen before the showdown between no 1 and no 2 of CBI.This happened because govt first put up their favourite Alok Verma and then another favouriteRakesh Asthana as his no 2.After Fight became bitter, they illegally removed both and appointed a third personNageshwar Rao as director. All of these hinted at attempts to control themain investigating arm of India

Election commission

At least in 2 instances, EC has displayed that they are working to the whims of government.First was the Gujarat elections where the election date was postponed to suit the ruling party and second was the disqualification of AAP MLAs.EC has thus far publicly not displayed any resistance to government moves


In a move to control RTI, govt has brought amendments to the term of CIC (central informational commission) and SIC(State information commissions) raising doubts of controlling the RTI flow of information

Supreme court

3 Judges protesting against CJI because they felt some cases were rerouted to a separate bench to suit the government.As per press reports, this allegedly was an attempt from the govt to control the judiciary of the country


Appointment of CVC KV Chowdary in 2015 was questioned by many eminent people like Ram Jethmalani and Prashanth Bushan.MR Chowdary had a tainted past involved in cases like Nira radia tapes, Moin Qureshi case etc. CVC is autonomous body overseeing the corruption in government institutions and its lack of autonomy can be disastrous to the transparency of government institutions

Poor support with top strata

Survey also did a socioeconomic status mapping by mapping type of smartphone the respondent used to the result and found that trust was 1.5 % more for respondents using low-end and mid-end phones as opposed to those using high-end phones.

Brand Modi: Opportunity

Get Farmer segment support back

Modi should look at Rythu Bandhu scheme of KCR and try to pilot it in some states. He can then promise to do across India and can win back some segments from the lost agricultural segment

While I was writing this post, govt has already announced support in the budget for farmers on the same lines.This Rs 3000 for farmers is a step in the right direction and should do some support back in rural India

India-Pakistan & Pulwama strikes

Pulwama Strikes on India by Pakistan were one of the deadliest attacks ever.On 14thFeb 2019 a suicide terrorist bomber bombed and martyred 40 CRPF jawans.This has angered the nation across and everyone was unanimous in asking for revenge

So the response of India in going to Pakistan and bombing Jaish-e Mohammad building in balakot was a phenomenal move.It has got people saying modiji has reacted best to terrorist acts. Starting with surgical strikes of URI and continuing with air strikes of balakot same can be converted into a national wave and will result in huge gains for modiji

Already modiji has started asking questions on action taken by Congress during Mumbai and parliament attacks and slowly this will become a core competency for BJP in general elections

Get Messaging right

Compared to 2014, the Modi of 2019 seems to have lost his mojo, the core message is missing in all his communication. The same is affecting the enthusiasm of BJP party workers across the country. Though BJP may not agree,messaging seems to be a major problem now.

In 2014, Modi himself was the message of change; that’s why his cadre was enthusiastic, and he won handsdown.

Five years on, the Modi message in 2019 cannot be the same as in 2014, as brand experience needs to be included. The message thus has to focus on two things: what Modi has delivered, and what he will promise to deliver in the next five years. This means the successes and failures of the first term have to be craftily woven into the future promise..

Brand Modi: Threats

Economy on a bad run

Modi government seems to have been caught badly on the economic growth front. The GDP figures released shows that growth has slipped further to 6.3 in Q3 from 7 in Q2 & 8 in Q1.Worsely it shows that agriculture and manufacturing both have been hit badly.Agriculture in bad shape affects 60 % of India’s population and manufacturing also hit means people don’t have any options to move out of agriculture. The only silver lining is the construction sector which has grown by 9.2 %. The overall GDP advanced estimates for 2019 is 7 % which is bad news since it will be lowest in this term of Modi government

Jobs story

As per the latest jobs survey which was leaked to business standard after the government refused to publish it the unemployment rate in India is at 45 year high of 6.1 %.This is as per the survey released by NSSO.Two members of National Statistical Commission (NSC) members, including the chairman, resigned, alleging that the government had withheld its release despite the NSC’s approval.

Unemployment is particularly high among people between 15 and 29 years – in urban India, 18.7% of men and 27.2% of women in this age group are looking for jobs, while in rural India, its 17.4% and 13.6% respectively.

This contradicts the growth story as one youth in every 5 is unable to get a job

Rafael Deal-“Chowkidar chor hai” election cry from Rahul

Corruption free government claims which was once a strength of Modi govt has started to wither away. Starting with Rs 58000 crore Rafael deal Rahul Gandhi has started attacking BJP at different points and beginning to confuse people with favoritism towards Anil Ambani

While the government didn’t come clean at the start of the issue, the opposition made the issue murkier and make it look like a scam. All the hurt and outrage of Nirmala seetharaman,the defence minister in parliament speaking about the issue, wouldn’t have been needed then.

Rahul Gandhi took her repeatedly on with question which she wouldn’t answer.It was tell us, did the defence ministry raise objections to the deal or not? If she had answered truthfully: That yes, it did, which is routine, but the government overruled them in its wisdom, the story may not have come this far. There are a lot of uncomfortable questions unanswered like how Anil Ambani got the servicing deal of the project.

With Opposition asking for JPC and BJP not agreeing to the same,Rafael will hog limelight into election season

Increased South Disconnect:

What does not look good for Modi is the increasing disconnect with the south. All the South states Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu barring Karnataka—were far less likely than Indians elsewhere to believe that Modi would bring a better future for their families.

Modi vs Rahul-Any Indian Against Corruption Is Chowkidar: PM Modi’s New Campaign

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16th March, tweeted a video launching ‘Mai Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He tweeted that every Indian who is fighting corruption, dirt and social evils is a ‘chowkidar’ along with him.

 Rahul Gandhi started “chowkidar chor hai” to attack the prime minister over alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.

PM Modi often refers to himself as the “chowkidar” of India, prompting the jibe from the Opposition.

Following Modi’s tweet on Saturday, Gandhi took to Twitter to ask if the prime minister was “feeling guilty.” He also termed Modi’s tweet “defensive.”

I guess by making opposition war cry against your main campaign

#MainBhiChowkidar.Modi has tried to show that he is real chowkidaar and has nothing to fear about corruption charges levelled against him. With pulwama counterattacks fresh in consumer minds,this phrase will serve as reminder of protector of nation as well in addition to protection against corruption.

With Mahaghatbandhan taking shape, modiji will need to play a well-crafted marketing strategy in the 2019 campaign suited to play to his strengths.Modiji has to carefully craft his message for each audience. Middle-class India is upset that little has happenedon education and jobs. They believe that very little has happened to fix education, the key to future success, so Modi needs to take some credible action here. On jobs, Modi would do well to tone down the is not possible to have the high jobs-creation claimed with the kind of poor consumption-spend we’re seeing; rural distress, too, would be lower if jobs-creation was so robust. Given the fantastic success in DBT—`5,40,000 crore already transferred after Modi came to power—the voters are more likely to believe Modi if he says this will be raised while cutting wasteful subsidies like those on fertilizers. With Pulwama air strikes, he has again comeback into the limelight as a leader who means action. This will need to be packaged well.

If votes are cast on real issues like unemployment , agriculture etc. Modi & BJP will end up on losing side. In short, Modiji needs to rekindle the dream, package it well,make message more credible this time to cut through and win

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@vivek vasudevan