Tarang Singhal, Narendra Modi, Congress and Patel


Wish you and your family a happy and prosperous Diwali and Dhanteras
i have been following your blog ever since you began posting and havent missed a single post. the idea of conflating the concept of brand with real world constructs which are more visible is something you do effortlessly. Since you have written about Narendra Modi already, i wanted to point my take on the idea of Vallabhai Patel and modi from a branding point of view. Below is my opinion on the same. 
Narendra Modi in national politics is an outsider, consider the polls for PM in the last 8 years. NM began featuring only in the last three, the TOMA for him was really not there. The NAMO brand had to mean more. So here comes the first story ” Gujarat being the crown jewel in an otherwise ailing country”. The brand creates its first meaning in the mindspace. The story resonates, the dissemination on social media ensures that a restless young generation eager for sweeping changes laps it up and , there he takes a first mover advantage. 
What does the Congress do ( from a pure strategic point of view) ? It is well known that people are more likely to be swayed by body language and appearences rather than content. ( reference: Kennedy Vs Nixon TV Debates). So while both brandish the Nehry style jackets and are eager to burnish their “sons of the soil” tags. In the mind space the idea of what Rahul Gandhi stands for as a leader versus what narendra modi stands for is really the question. So here comes congress calling him a regional leader. A rhetoric that questions his ability. My hypothesis is that by using Sardar Vallabh bhai patel’s legacy Narendra Modi is trying to create the second anchor ( phyically as well as mentally). The Nehru Gandhi narrative has ensured that there are only certain “tall leaders”. Leaders with immpeccable credentials, sacrosanct ( something akin to founding fathers of US). Leaders such as Ambedkar ( used briliiantly by mayawati for another “market” segment) or Rajendra Prasad, Madan Mohan Malviya ,C. Rajagopalachari have lost their appeal. Yet there is something relevant about Patel. Like Apple which used the idea of think different to pitch for people who defied conventions. Patel and the way his legacy has emerged in these years has ensured that he be labelled the unsung hero. It is this audience he wishes to capture by aligning with Patel ( forgotten by Congress, adopted by Modi) a narrative that in my opinion will only strengthen his appeal and also delay the fatigue that his bilitzkrieg may create in the mind of the audience.

3 thoughts on “Tarang Singhal, Narendra Modi, Congress and Patel

  1. Sir the foundations of brand NaMo lie more in the negative campaigning against him rather than the social network. Narendra Modi was smart enough to use that in his favour! And Modi did take center stage only some 10 years back but he has been part of national politics since 90’s when he joined BJP with Govindacharya.
    As regards congress party sidelining leaders, this has been a trend since Subhash Chandra Bose. Why else do we have every scheme being named after the Gandhi-Nehru clan! For Congress everyone else is local & regional, but the Gandhi’s.
    It would be too simplistic to say that Modi is using Sardar Patel’s name to strengthen his point of India first and Indian identity over other identities, Narendra Modi is using Sarder Patel’s impeccable personality to target Nehruvian socialism and secularism. He is challenging definitions and rewriting them all behind Sardarji’s identity, it is not without reason he advised Patel should have been the first PM. Instead of letting congress play the communal BJP & Hitler Modi card, Modi has been successful so far in keeping the congress engaged in the debate on Secularism.

  2. ‘Gujarat being the crown jewel in an otherwise ailing country’.

    Nothing could be more further from the truth. When it comes to key indicators – all of which the Gujarat government has highlighted with the skillful usage of social media – there are other states doing far better than Gujarat has been doing. Be it FDI or be it HDI. This is not to say that Gujarat has not been a good performer. It has actually been at the top end for long. Since Independence Gujarat has been known for adopting a laissez faire attitude towards entrepreneurship and cultivating cozy relationships with industrialists and providing a safe haven for the ‘trading community’. It also helped that Gujarat being a coastal state, it was far easier to do business than others could. This is also one of the reason why it’s growth has been high for long. For one man to claim all the credit for this and for this unthinking middle class of ours to give all him credit for this, there should clearly be something amiss.

    Why for instance do we not have the media and social media gushing about Mayawati’s administration in the UP. Yes she did spend money building statues and parks. But isn’t that what the Mr. Modi is up to in Gujarat as well. The proposed statue of Sardar is supposed to cost somewhere around 2000 crores. I have no issues with the statue personally but if Mayawati can be accused of fiscal profligacy then why not Mr. Modi? In my visits to UP, what I have been told by a lot of people that Mayawati ran one of the best administrations UP saw in the last couple of decades especially w.r.t to law and order. But then a ‘Kumari Mayawati’ is a no-go as far as social media is concerned.

    Or how about Tamil Nadu. Ever since Periyar and Annadurai unleashed the Dravidian movement, Tamil Nadu’s politics and society has undergone a *Structural* revolution. Yes structural. People whose forefathers were in *different/downmarket professions* are now part of an ascendant mercantilist class giving the traditional mercantile classes a run for their money. Even more important is this nugget I picked up from the EPW (Economic and Political Weekly), TN ranks among the Top 5 in businesses owned/managed by women. The other states in this league are Kerala and some NE states. Reason for the latter’s dominance – their matrilineal society. Matlab, in the 4 decades or so after Periyar and Kamaraj, TN has achieved what took these states centuries to achieve. But then social media would never give credit to TN, except taking potshots at Raja and Karunanidhi.

    And now coming to the Rajan Index. Raghuram Rajan was asked to classify states according to their development in various parameters. This was done to consider Nitish Kumar’s request for special status to Bihar. And what did the Index find? That Goa and Kerala were the most developed states in the country. And where did the crown jewel stand? A piffling 12th. In spite of such incontrovertible and scientific evidence our social media and by extension the middle-classes continue to love THIS MAN.

    It does strike a jarring note? Is this love due to Development or are there multiple dimensions to the Gujarati Lala’s Virile Aura? That my dear Professor is the elephant in the room.

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