In one of the interviews on television news shows, Yogendra Yadav of AAP was asked about his party’s approach to politics. In his quintessential humble and soft style, he said that AAP is here to make the existing political parties irrelevant.
The simplicity of expression and the statement was lost in the cacophony of participants who represented different parties. Like any other debate on television, the decibel level and force behind modulation of other participants tried to run down what Mr Yadav had just said. To spokespersons of different parties this statement did not mean much for they failed to understand the profundity and the substance that lay hidden beneath those words. It was an expression of vision that AAP spokesperson seemed to have articulated with phenomenal strategic orientation.
Let us try to decode what Mr Yadav meant. There are two critical elements of this statement: irrelevant and other parties (competition). This implies that AAP was not fighting the rival parties rather they aimed to change the way voters evaluated political options by altering their evaluative criteria. To put it simply, for instance car buyers conventionally evaluate options on the basis of price (fuel efficiency) and image (luxury) and these dimensions are negatively related (due to constraints imposed by manufacturing and marketing structures). Accordingly firms target their segments and operate in their chosen markets. Congress plays out on its strengths of inclusion and secularism but is marred by corruption. BJP is perceived to be a saffron nationalistic party (now developmental pro-business) but considered divisive and has its own taint of corruption. And general elections are about attacking each other. These two highly differentiated brands in Indian politics have their own followers. But does this neat division of market/ voters reflect the reality or is it created by structural imposition (two players two options-like manufacturing and marketing compulsions)?
The structural imposition may not reflect reality. It only tunnels the vision. The eyes are trained to look at the market/industry in a ‘particular’ way. But an out of box thing can throw up new opportunities. For instance innovation of a model that combines luxury with price can have an overhauling effect on the car market. Kim and Mauborgne in their Blue Ocean Strategy say that a firm can create a new uncontested market space and thereby make competitors irrelevant by creating new consumer value. Mr Yadav was talking about making BJP and Congress irrelevant by creating a new political space. AAP used Blue ocean strategy and targeted people who valued inclusion, secularism (minus corruption) and pro-development (minus divisiveness). Here was a mix or value combination that two established players did not offer.
The new emergent demographic ( younger population) and psychographic (now generation and rebel instinct) change in the population, especially in Delhi gave rise to a new uncontested space where value combination of AAP enjoyed high resonance and set it apart from traditional players. Both the parties in this space with their accompanying negatives (Congress- perceived corruption and BJP-perceived divisiveness) were rendered unappealing but AAP appropriated their positives (Congress’s inclusion/secularism and BJP’s development).
It is therefore no surprise how AAP made its competition irrelevant by altering the way Delhi’s voters evaluated their political options. In car industry if customers begin to use both luxury and price as combination rather than dichotomous aspects, the existing car brands would lose their appeal for being incomplete.