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BJP Vs AAP – A tale of two campaigns

Naresh Gupta, CSO & Managing Partner, BangInTheMiddle (BITM), analyses the poll campaigns of the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the recently held Delhi Assembly Elections and what the AAP did right vis-a-vis where the BJP faltered. 

The Delhi Assembly poll results are out and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has done what many thought was unthinkable. They have repeated a sweep of unprecedented scale. Sweeps are rare; a sweep that happens in a span of 5 years is rarer than sighting a blue moon! 

To start with, it was clear that AAP has an upper hand in Delhi. There wasn’t any kind of anger to them, the common Delhi’ite loved what the party had delivered and the new improved Kejriwal was getting more love than a year earlier. The BJP had to mount a challenge to counter this and move the votes away from AAP. 

The BJP campaign was desperate, abrasive and had a street fighter tonality. It questioned the choice Delhi made 5 years back and asked them to not repeat the mistake. Large parts of the creative in their campaign were dark, with black and white pictures and an angry tonality. What the BJP forgot was that their brand is about inspiration. They have made Indians proud of Indianness. Their narrative in the past Lok Sabha election was of positivity and hope. The indications were clear that the campaign isn’t connecting and that the party needs a new narrative. They did just that by upping the rhetoric and not getting inspirational. This is where the campaign just fizzled out and by the time the polling day came, the campaign wasn’t making the AAP voters question their choice.

The AAP campaign, in contrast, was positive, happy and sometimes even cheeky. The campaign borrowed from popular culture and made people look at the party with a sense of positivity. The campaign almost ignored what the BJP’s campaign was saying and continued to focus on what the party had delivered in the last 5 years. The digital campaign they ran was also only about themselves and they never joined any conversation with the rivals. They over-invested on Facebook and didn’t do what the rival parties do on Twitter. And despite the overwhelming chatter on social media about a variety of issues, the AAP handles didn’t join the conversation. They took a considered call. The positive tonality of the campaign did help in keeping the narrative positive and happy. 

As in every election campaign, the real campaign tonality was on display in election rallies and speeches and not on just the media campaign. This is where real politics was on display and not everything on display was in good taste. Both the parties played the religion card to the hilt. Maybe no election in India can ever be fought without religious overtones. 

Looking back, this much is clear – the new voters in India do respond to positive, inspirational tonality of a party campaign and don’t always make a choice based on anger or dissatisfaction.

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