Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The PR that failed!! | Astha Bahuguna

Political campaigning for the elections has always remained crucial to any democratic political setup. What we have seen in the last few decades is the outsourcing of these campaigns to an outsider who is paid for the same- to make it look attractive and also to meet the need of the hour.
There are series of example we can see that a lot of money is used in the PR to hire a person or a team of people with amazing ideas- basically to beat the opponent at least in the visual front. Looking good becomes important, looking development oriented becomes important, at the same time it becomes important to look responsible and that is what we see in the case of the former Uttar Pradesh CM, Akhilesh Yadav who hired professionals from the Harvard University to design his election campaign. At the same time, the UP State Budget for Information and Public Relations hikes like anything and the other important and relatively crucial things become secondary.
After the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections when the Samajwadis get only 6 seats in UP, having had 225 in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections Akhilesh realized that they need marketization, they need media and they also need to do away with the image their family has and focus more on the development agenda.
Just like the western politicians he tries to portray himself as a family man, as a responsible man and this was a deliberate decision indeed. He hired the same company who had worked for Obama; the same person for that matter Gerald J Austin.  There are no doubts regarding how much attention he paid to the image building part. This election was the litmus test to see how effective it could be but what we see is a complete failure. It is difficult to answer that. Why? What becomes primary here? Media was given all the credits when Modi came to picture in 2014 but the credibility and relying on the same media sources by the politicians became ambiguous in this case. Maybe Modi was the only one to have used media to such an extent in 2014 but by 2016 every politician was smart enough to use it wisely and therefore such results.

We cannot provide a perfect answer to this question for everything is not black and white here but grey because reception is always personal but the only thing we can do is to wait for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections or maybe the next few elections- the 2022 Assembly Elections in UP and the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections and see what we can get out of the PR business then.

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