Monday, March 13, 2017

BJP victory in Uttar Pradesh: How much media contributed to the wave?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept the Assembly election. The scale of victory has been unprecedented.

BJP and its allies won 325 seats out of 403. That's more than 3/4th majority.

BJP alone got 312 seats. SP got just 47 seats, BSP 19 and Congress 7.

Clearly, the credit goes to BJP poll managers. You have to give it to them.

The party managed to win the State. Even exit polls didn't predict such a tsunami. Even though journalists were saying that there is no wave, in the end BJP decimated the entire opposition.

Even if there was an under-current, nothing was visible. How? It seems media helped create the wave. Till a few days before polling, SP was dominating the headlines because of the family feud.

But, as election dates came closer, there was a sudden media attention towards BJP. Local Hindi media, which is known for its pro-BJP stand, began saying that the BJP was very much in the fray.

Soon, channels were now reporting that BJP was all set to gain ground. Dainik Jagran published an opinion poll even though it violated guidelines, to suggest that BJP was ahead in the election.

This was planned strategy. Steadily this created an impression that BJP was not a spoiler but a major player. Now, round the clock, TV channels began focusing on BJP. BJP supporters were interviewed and this was aired.

With news channels beaming it day and night, there was an impression that BJP was the party that was heading forward. Voters were probably not happy with SP-Congress coalition, BSP had failed to gauge the public mood.

Hence, BJP was surging ahead. Media helped the party gain momentum. Perhaps, this resulted in the situation that finally a wave was created. The voter is not a fool but he/she doesn't waste vote of losing party.

There is impact when they hear that a party is winning. And, the fence-sitters too decide that they would vote. It's a trend. And this probably happened in Uttar Pradesh. Media has an impact on public mind.

Still, you have to give due credit to BJP. They had an eye on non-Yadav OBC vote. They managed to wean out sections of Dalits too. And when it comes to media strategy, they are far ahead of other parties.

Not just mainstream media, social media plays an even more important role. With WhatsApp and Facebook reaching tens of millions in India, and the party's IT cell light years ahead of other outfits in spreading their message, one can imagine the impact of social media on the voters in UP.