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Where to, from here?

As people, we are going through some very trying times when more than half the population is rejoicing at the results and the remaining struggling with the results of the unprecedented, most contentious elections in our nation’s seventy-year history after independence. The unrest is palpable as friends and families argue beliefs and core values, sometimes to the point of shunning those whose friendship they once sought and respected. Some have been suffering from adverse effects caused by the election, displaying symptoms similar to acute anxiety, feeling anxious and irritated, fearful, difficulty in sleeping, maybe even nightmares. Most of these symptoms will likely subside in time. It is worth some wisdom that all of them must discard acrimony and peacefully re-discover the joy of living without taking sides.


If the people are affected, it is no different for the losing candidates, their parties or their leaders. The ruling party understandably must be elated and happy for the stellar performance that was put out to return to power. It is as if they could do nothing wrong. The strategy was spot on, deigned to the last detail as it were, the execution was immaculate, impeccable and the results stunning. The election paradigm was disrupted like never before and enacted to perfection. A traditional parliamentary system was retrofit to resemble a presidential election and reduced to “Me” vs “You”. “Each of your vote will directly come to my account” rendered every other candidate redundant. It made no difference if the candidate was a veteran, an accused, a novice or even incompetent. Not an iota of space was ceded throughout the campaign to the opponents who were outthought, outdone and outsmarted in every conceivable way. Where then, would the opposition go to from here on?


The Country has too many parties and too many leaders who may not count for anything on any given day. Must it be said the same, about the grand old party that has been decimated like never before? A constructive and strong opposition is necessary for democracies to survive, though it is debatable if democracies themselves are in global recession, after their failure in Thailand and Venezuela and democratic backsliding in countries like Ecuador, Hungary, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, and Turkey. Unfortunately, the grand old party is in no position to even fulfil an effective opposition’s role. All is not lost if an honest introspection leads to a revival in fortunes that will stand in good stead in five years to come. The party needs to go to the drawing board, rethink, and reposition to fit the current environment. The current millennials and the Gen-Next have not been a part of the independence movement nor identify with the struggles of the time. Their aspirations are decent income and a decent living with no one to trespass their space. They would also want security both internal and external, and their wellbeing taken care of. The proletariat and the agrarian based would look for similar, but their concerns are borne out of a different set of boundary conditions.


It makes sense to go back to the drawing board, reposition the self, rethink the environment, and revisit the party founding tenets. An overhaul of the grassroots bodies represented by the students, teachers, industry workers or the faithful foot soldiers must surely be called for. In a way, strategizing to meet at least half way, the aspirations of the current generation and demands of the generations gone by on a monthly basis would bring back the verve and rejuvenation needed. A war of ideas is a clash or disagreement of opposing ideals, ideologies, or concepts through which nations or groups use strategic influence to promote their interests abroad. When the clash happens to promote interests within, then they must be clearly articulated. The coming five years must be a period of introspection, vigilance, learning and benevolent action. Politics of hate do not appeal to people of any generation especially those of the current.


Discipline in party cadres is a virtue that most parties are devoid of. However, it is the ability of the leader to come down heavily at the slightest of misdemeanour that makes the difference. Motor mouths must be silenced ruthlessly and castigated or sacked from the parties. More often than not, younger generation would appreciate such decisive gestures. Foot soldiers win wars. They must be made to feel important. It is necessary that cadres must be massively enhanced in a spiral plot like structure to bring back the laurels. Motivational speakers who can inspire with their charisma the audiences, need to be cultivated to bring back them by the hordes. People may not accept truly centrist policies when they are forced to take a stand. Intelligence and wisdom must drive the position that could be right or left leaning on a given day. Consistent issue-based politics would endear people to parties. Ambivalence has done no good to anyone. Agenda of the Nation and not agenda of self would ultimately set the aura. Jobs, farmer distress, price rise are all serious concerns. A white paper that discusses these thoroughly with meticulous plans is needed. A think tank without strings or without personal agendas must create the party gospel.


Political strategy is how parties and candidates think and plan in order to achieve their goals. It requires consideration of many different factors such as the nature of the market, history, culture, governance, stakeholders, competitors, resources and goals. It includes targeting, positioning strategies, attack and defence strategies, sales and market orientations, populist strategies, strategies and the environment, measuring and implementing strategy. Data analytics and AI are the tools to do it. Party must be receptive to change.


The second half of the game is just round the corner for the grand old party. They must brace up for regime change in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Punjab in that order. The only glue that can hold people together is power. Systems disintegrate when pulled apart in different directions. Fulfilling promises, meeting the distress in people with love, compassion and real-time help, being there on the ground all the time are the only mantras if more annihilation and humiliation is to be stopped. There are other States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu where a combination of ideology, adventurism and technology would disrupt the existing power equations. Is the grand old party ready for the challenge?

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