On 4th November 2020, Arnab Goswami was arrested.
This unfortunate event changed a lot.
For starters, the tone and tenor of BJP social media supporters.
They felt cheated and were right in their uproar and demand. Selflessly, for years they have been supporting Modi, the savior- the man they expect to rectify every wrong that has been ever done in this country.
Millions of BJP social media supporters could not understand as to why no one from the government was shielding Arnab from a slew of fabricated cases driven by personal vendetta.
This is where BJP’s chink was exposed yet again.
It is not the first time that I am writing about this.
In my previous blogs too, I have warned the BJP government of their flawed communication hierarchy and its delivery model.
Let us first try to decipher the context.
Since Independence, India was ruled by a single party, a single family; the Nehru-Gandhi. Family was the party and what it thought of India was India’s vision, dream and the way forward. It continued till JP entered the scene, challenging the dynasty. But long before that the family had set cogs and wheels in the right place.
Oiled by government grants, subsidies and favors, the system worked tirelessly to protect the family. Even the sporadic shot at power by the BJP; Janata Party could not do much to disturb the Cogs and Wheels.
With no understanding and experience in administration and managing such a large country, these parties largely went by the precedence, right or wrong, and by the vision of their founders.
These Cogs and wheels were so firmly enticed in the system, that even when Congress was not in power, this infra worked for the party, doing every bit to bring it back to power back by ruthlessly decimating their opposition. And yes, everything is fair in love and war. Remember how George Fernandes was cornered and tainted in the media created Coffin Scam?
Coming back to the year 2020. When Arnab was arrested, people expected the BJP government to stand by his side, to provide him some support. But due to lack of Media, intellectuals, Arnab was left high and dry.
Yes, there were some tweets from few ministers but that was it. Can you remember when NDTV was being investigated for FERA violation? Every single channel observed a Black Day. But did it happen for Arnab? No. Why? Blame it on the non-existent Media Policy of the present government.
What is BJP’s Communication Strategy?
As far as I can see, none.
Patronizing DD and state owned media at the cost of others can’t be a part of any long term strategy.
Modi’s disdain for English speaking media has isolated the party.
BJP’s reluctance in accepting media for its use rather than ideology has impacted the reach of its policies to a wide range of people.
Yes, BJP is winning elections,
Yes, BJP has a commendable Social Media presence.
But then now every party knows how to use Social media.
And the Social media of BJP is largely due to its followers and not owing to its social media team prowess.
Also, with the advent of powerful Left-Congress social media influencers, the potency of Right Wing Social Media is being dented. What BJP has to understand that it is not about India only. The wide reach of Modi has made him a powerful global leader. Also, the world has been divided into two homogenous sets. Right and Left. A person who hates Modi, hates Trump too. A Putin hater is a Modi hater. Pro China parties are BJP and Republican haters. Pro Islam lobby is always Anti- Trump-Modi-Putin-Macron.
If the BJP does not step of its parochial mindset, this whole polarization could leave the Right-wingers in a lurch.
What would have Congress done if they were in power at the center and BJP led government in Maharashtra would have arrested Rajdeep?
1. Irrigation scam file would have been opened putting Sharad Pawar and his family on back foot
2. Telgi’s Narco test report would have been made public, framing the Maratha Satrap
3. Parambeer’s Singh wife, who is still on the board of LIC Housing would have been removed and her role would have been put under scanner for her dealing with India Bulls
4. Large protests would have ben orchestrated across the nation
5. Award Wapsi by intellectuals
6. The media would have been abuzz with the use of “Emergency 2.0, murder of democracy, freedom of press, fascist government, Hitler is back etc.
7. Protests would have been held across the world and NY Times and BBC would have reported how BJP is murdering democracy and freedom of speech.
8. And they would have arrested few leaders too even put the state under President’s Rule
That is why despite being out of power for 6 years, they still have a huge base of supporters. Academicians to journalist, bureaucrats to judges. As I write this piece, after seeking bail for three days in a country where Salman gets one in 30 mins, Arnab has been asked by the HC to go to a lower court for bail.
Governance is not only about development, especially in a country like India. It is a mixed bag that includes flexing your muscles, letting your opposition know who is the boss and telling your supporters that you are there for them. It is definitely about playing to the gallery, once in a while.
Also, it is time for the BJP to patronize influencers, both online and offline. This is the right time to streamline their airtime heft. TV debates are meant for articulate people, people who can debate with facts and content not with rhetoric. Most of the spokesperson from Congress knows about the subject matter more than most of the BJP spokesperson.
BJP needs a mixed bag
1. A long term Right Wing Comm Strategy that integrates content, seeding it well and decimating the opposition narrative with counter force.
2. Khaki trousers cannot be a mark of virtue and the only qualification. There are other able people who could be Right Wing supporter but not necessarily a BJP fan.
3. Importing Leftists and making them wear Bhagwa won’t work. Arnab was never a right-winger. A change of wind and he would switch sides again. Gen G D Bakshi and Pushpendra Kulshresta are other two names. Such voices irritate and antagonise genuine Right wing followers.
4. BJP needs to identify that the playing field has changed and so has the role of Modi. They need second and third line of command, especially for front line Communication. Sambit Patra is good entertainment but they need more people like Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi , Sudesh Verma and Nupur Sharma.
5. They need to commit to the cause of Hindutva again. Muslim appeasement won’t work for them. They have never and will never vote for them. Consolidation is the call of the hour. Identification of their core market, their core TA is imperative.
6. Having Short Term and Mid term Communication burts to support the long term curve
TA Acquisition is a long drawn and expensive process and should never be done at the cost of existing TA.
I am sure they will get their act together soon.
One thing they ought to know; electoral fortunes can change.