In a bid to boost poll prospects, the BJP lapped up and inducted tainted minister Babu Singh Kushwaha. The party seems very eager to establish itself as a dominant force in the state. And to the political strategists , Kushwaha, in their calculation, appears a short cut to build franchise in a certain section of society. Kushwaha is alleged to be involved in multi crore National Rural Health Mission in UP.
Later dissent emerged within the party on this decision which forced the party president to put his induction on hold till the charges are proven to the contrary. How does a decision like this go down with the party loyalists and the uncommitted, especially the youth who seem to be united against corruption, especially considering the fact that this is the group that is going to play an important role in the polity of this country.
The Congress, on the other hand, launched an offensive against the BJP without losing any time. Congress general secretary and prime campaigner, Rahul Gandhi was quick to claim that his party had shut the door on Kushwaha as his party does not welcome any person with doubtful credentials. Congress is not a refuge for tainted politicians, their influence notwithstanding.
The effect of this decision can be analyzed by using balance theory employed by marketers and advertisers in campaign planning. Consider the effect of this decision on BJP loyalists and the uncommitted:
The loyalists or some fence sitters have a positive attitude to the party/ brand (+ attitude to the object). Some of the people in this group, especially in the younger age bracket are likely to have negative attitude or sentiment towards corruption (- attitude to corruption) and Mr Kushwaha is alleged to be involved in a multi-crore scam. His induction (+ connection between the party/ brand and the endorser) in the party has an effect of pairing of a negative and a positive sign (- and + attitude) in the mind which is an inconsistent or tension state. Psychologically it is an uncomfortable state. In a situation like this it is natural for a person to look for ways to wriggle out of tension/ friction and regain cognitive balance.
Tiger Woods has been a remarkable player and achiever and hence people held positive attitude to him (+ sentiment connection). The consulting firm Accenture, for a long period used him as the endorser for the brand ( + connection shown in brand communication) such that people develop a positive attitude towards the brand. Accenture was quick to drop Tiger Woods from its campaign once the news about his controversial relationships broke out. It was prompted by the assumption that these revelations would create a negative attitude towards the endorser Woods. And his endorsement is likely to damage the brand by creating an imbalance state (+ attitude towards Accenture but – attitude towards Tiger Woods after the sex scandal).
In cases like these, it is natural for people to restore psychological balance. People can achieve reconciliation in a number of ways:
- The negative attitude to corruption/ Kushwaha remains but attitude to the brand/ party is changed to negative (-,-)
- The negative attitude to corruption/ Kushwaha is changed to positive and current positive to party remains constant (+,+)
- And the third option is when the party changes it stand of inducting Kushwaha (from earlier + (association/ induction) to – (dissociate with Kushwaha). This would result in a state of balance (attitude to party +, attitude to Kushwaha – and party’s connection with Kushwaha – resulting in +)
The recent decision of the BJP to suspend his induction probably will go down well with people who seek a clean, corruption free governance/ political brand.
How about you? Does this decision make you psychologically comfortable?