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Guest Column: Branding games and stakes in politics: Adve Srinivasa Bhat

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Guest Column: Branding games and stakes in politics: Adve Srinivasa Bhat

Who is the Governor of our state? This common general knowledge question in the middle schools across the country could get a wrong answer this year instead of the (mostly expected) ‘don’t know’ owing to the governors being hardly newsmakers.

You guessed it right! The answer this year would most likely be; Shri Najeeb Jung, irrespective of the state to which the schools may belong. Quite possibly, a survey would prove that true of even many literate adults – of knowing about Najeeb Jung and not really sure of the governor of their state.

The ongoing conflict between the Delhi govt and the Delhi governor has already created enough buzz – to the distress of the citizens, not just of Delhi - to have the potential to impact ‘involved’ political parties and their fortunes in the coming state elections.

The – high-volume, wide-reach – awareness this tussle continues to create would only stick and reinforce certain attributes to the parties – negative or positive – by the appropriateness of their comments and actions.

Both BJP and AAP, and even Congress though a bit tough for them, can derive brand advantage from the situation by being; prudent, genuine and earnest in their thinking and talks on the issue.

For AAP though this looks more of an opportunity despite the distress it is causing them the response and actions so far seem a bit ‘immature’ and that attribute might quite possibly stick to AAP to their disadvantage unless of course they find a more effective approach to address the situation.

For BJP undoubtedly it is a clear threat situation, and as it is evident, it would be hard for them to ‘make good’ from the situation owing to the hard-to-abide by the refrain it calls for, on their part, and therefore presents a huge risk considering the coming elections which has already become ‘not easy’ for them owing to many other factors. The risk for BJP is in their own claim of being ‘uninvolved’ in ‘the game’ and the support and cooperation they had promised to AAP after they won Delhi 67/70.

Would the parties care to make the gain or at least fear the loss their brand (party) could suffer? Not really. Not yet. All parties seem to thrive alike being alike and being absolutely conscious of that fact. Brands are immune to issues that are neutral to all competitors and the best competition strategy under such a situation is to brand hard against a chosen negative attribute that is neutral. Corruption was neutral in politics and AAP won because of branding itself against it. Unfortunately, AAP’s growing disadvantage arises from – them also, of late, talking alike and behaving alike – like other parties, which makes branding futile and unattractive for all. Perhaps evolution ceases once something is achieved and one is content with that. AAP’s biggest failure is in not being able to move beyond corruption and pick up other neutral negative aspects in the system. They can’t afford not to. Hope they will.

However, should all the political parties play the situation to a certain logical conclusion it would be interesting to know the advantages a very small state provides in the governance in terms of economy, social justice and overall efficiency, particularly considering the demands for smaller states in certain other regions.

Would they? Hard chances!

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