Seven differences that have emerged in recent times
Alok Kumar Rai | March 7, 2014
i) Earlier it was "image", now it is "hope":
Earlier, the elections were won on image of the party or the leader. So initially many royal families also used to win elections. Now what sells in the electoral space is the hope. India predominantly is a Hindu country as far as the “way of life” definition of Hinduism holds true. So the image of the leader has been an important factor and that is why “branding political gods” have been attempted by almost all the political parties. But even in modern branding of political gods have not been based upon the lineage but on the promise of what the leader can deliver. “What can he do?” to me or my area became more important a factor for the voter than “who he is?”
ii) From voter’s awe to candidate’s empathy:
This is another important change that is taking place in the process of election. “People hate to be sold to, however they love to buy.” A large chunk of the voters now do take cognizance of whether the candidate knows him/her personally, whether the candidate attends his/her family functions, whether the candidate supports me with his support system etc. So candidate became a hugely important factor. It can be observed that assembly elections where the constituency is comparatively smaller, leaders have been nursing it so well that they have been winning elections after elections from whatever party contest. Thus empathy has become the biggest differentiator.
iii) From passive observation to active participation:
Earlier it was passive observation of the electoral process, now it is more active participation to the electoral process. Elections have always been a cumbersome and engaging exercise but with new-age voters, or as Mr Modi says “new-age power”, it is used more as a networking platform. With availability of greater and newer avenues for participation in electoral processes as IT usage, social media, and other communication options. More people especially youth who are interested in taking up politics as their career finds it as an entry to their reference world. With nuclear families, city-based single professionals who are earning anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000 a month and are used to of getting exposed to new-age marketing tools seemed concerned want to take part in the process and make them heard. Participation in this hugely tried, tested and trusted networking opportunity, they want to ride the wave and wants to relish the taste.
iv) From indifferent to highly demanding voters:
Expectation from the candidate has increased manifold. Increase in education, media exposure, travel etc has made people quickly compare the development, the conduct, the behavior etc. Increased competition in the electoral process with every new party trying to out do others and every new candidate trying to outperform the rivals has made the voters more demanding. Many of the work done by the party of the candidate largely forms part of the hygiene factor whose presence does not ensure that voter would be positively oriented but whose absence would ensure that the voter would certainly be disenchanted.
v) From no factor to dominance of micro issue:
Elections earlier have been fought on macro issues and macro leadership. So, people voted for the Congress, Nehru and Gandhi’s for years without bothering who is the candidate and what he does for the constituency. Now, the micro issues as candidate, his conduct and behavior, his work etc is playing an important role in the acceptability of the candidate and the party. Hand pumps, rural road, electricity pole etc have been bigger driver as compared to the Golden Quadrilateral.
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