Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Data-Driven Strategy which helped Modi become PM

The men behind India’s biggest brand story, the Modi wave
Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/the-men-behind-indias-biggest-brand-story-the-modi-wave-1563957.html?utm_source=ref_article

The men behind India’s biggest brand story, the Modi wave by Piyasree Dasgupta Jun 11, 2014 10:25 IST #Bharat Vijay rallies #BJP #CAG #Citizens for Accountable Governance #Lok Sabha elections 2014 #Modi #PoliticsDecoder #Prime Minister Narendra Modi #Statue of Unity inShare 1 7 CommentsEmailPrint What could possibly bring together the manager of an alternative rock band, a fashion school graduate, an investment banker, a journalist, a lawyer and a history graduate from an Ivy League university? No, it's not World Cup special discounts at a sports bar, the correct answer is actually Narendra Modi. However, Citizens for Accountable Governance, claim sources, didn't start out to be the present Prime Minister's public relations machinery right at the outset. In fact, the group of professionals who got together to help people make an informed political choice in the 2014 polls was initially even willing to lend a ear to Rahul Gandhi. "This was an election crucial for India, its economy, business in the country. So, initially we were completely apolitical and wanted to do something to battle the widespread apathy that exists in India about voting. So we organised Manthan and the Young India Leaders Conclave. Rahul Gandhi attended one of the events and Narendra Modi attended two of our events," says a CAG member, who quit his banking job in Boston and joined CAG in its inception phase. This was mid 2013. Modi at one of his rallies . PTI Shortly after, in August that year, CAG organised Manthan, a youth initiative aimed at Indian colleges. As a part of the event students were urged to submit presentations and ideas on what the agenda of the 2014 elections should be and what the new government should address. Online submissions were invited, which culminated in a grand finale in Delhi. According to CAG members, the initiative saw participation from 7,000 colleges and managed to reach out to at least one crore students directly and at least nine crore students showed interest in the event. CAG invited Narendra Modi, then touted to be BJP's PM candidate but not nominated officially yet, to address the gathering in the finale of the event. And that's when CAG caught his eye. "Though he was not officially the party's PM candidate (Modi was declared BJP's PM candidate in September 2013 following much internal conflict and drama), he was one of the front-runners. As a result he was choosing his public appearances very carefully and we had to convince him to attend Manthan," said the CAG member. While convincing Modi, the former Gujarat CM was reportedly impressed by CAG's social media strategies. Though the representative Firstpost spoke to said that Modi was impressed with CAG's social media reach, it is evident that it was not their 'reach' but their ideas that impressed Modi. A simple explanation: CAG has 11,000 followers on Twitter, Narendra Modi has 4.8 million. Soon after, Modi chose Indian CAG to be the 'social mobilisation partner' of the 'Statue of Unity' project. "That's how we got closer to Mr Modi. We were primarily responsible for spreading the word about the project and help get donors, etc," says the CAG member. The Statue of Unity project and the discussions around it in social media made considerable news. Interestingly, it was possibly during the Statue of Unity project that Modi's team came up with the 'Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat' refrain. Something that eventually made its way to the BJP's manifesto and even the President's address during the joint session of Parliament. "We made up our minds by December 2013, we wanted to be formally a part of Mr Modi's election campaign," he says. And that's how the stage was set for the highlights of Modi's campaigns - the 3D rallies, the Chai Pe Charchas, the 185-rally Bharat Vijay Rallies that were launched in March and saw the then PM aspirant travel indefatigably across the country never letting either himself, or the BJP, out of people's minds before the polls. And that's when CAG's number crunching talent and managerial skills came to use. Of the 85 members listed under the Indian CAG website's 'Who are We' section, at least one third are management graduates from premier B-schools across India, including IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C, ISB, Symbiosis etc. There are engineers, public policy researchers, media and communication consultants among others. While that's the core team, their website shows that they have more than a lakh 'members' and 29 city chapters. "We divided ourselves up in groups for various states. Then we started doing retrograde analysis of each constituency in the major states," he explains. A term commonly associated with chess, the Wikipedia describes retrograde analysis (commonly called retro anaylsis) thus: "In chess, retrograde analysis is a computational method used to solve game positions for optimal play by working backward from known outcomes (eg. checkmate), such as the construction of endgame tablebases. In game theory at large, this method is called backward induction. For most games, retrograde analysis is only feasible in late game situations of reduced complexity, such as a chess position where few pieces remain in play." To simplify what they did, the Indian CAG members dug up all old records of elections, collected data from the ground and came up with campaign solutions - much like what consultants in corporate houses are entrusted with doing for business transactions. "We based our solutions on the granularity of each polling booth which gets around 2000 votes. And then through retro analysis we determined which constituencies were the ones with the most impact. A blanket campaign is one thing and a constituency, booth specific campaign is another. Through that analytics process we figured out for the party and Modi which constituency, if campaigned in, will poll more votes for them," says the CAG member. While it seems like a pristine, professionally managed campaign that the BJP greeted the nation with, it was not without its hiccups. Traditional political processes, when pitted against newer methods of campaigning, managed to ruffle a lot of feathers. BJP leaders at state-levels, say sources, weren't too glad at the bunch of suit-tie professionals with no history of political engagement trying to show them how their own game is played. "Yes, we did face a lot of 'we-don't-need-this' protests. There was a definite trust issue as we were coaxing them to change make changes to traditional politicking," he says. However, Modi reportedly issued a strong diktat to party workers that CAG's strategies have to be taken very seriously. "Then when we explained with data how campaigning in one constituency as opposed to another can translate into votes, they came around," he says. CAG's strategising, evidently, didn't end with just the local leaders. The group burnt the midnight oil to chalk out each stop that PM candidate Modi should make and at what time in the course of the campaign. "We designed his campaign trail based on data from the grassroots, ground reports and retro analysis on poll data. We had volunteers - students, professionals etc - who provided us with state specific date. We also did our our data collection which included demography, polling history, media audits among other things," explains a source in India CAG. For example, says the source, before Modi visited Amethi, there were three 3D rallies in the constituency. It was then decided that he will visit Amethi on the last day of campaigning before the constituency goes to polls. It was also CAG's idea to bombard Uttar Pradesh with Modi - strategically organising 3D rallies in some constituencies, and having Modi address crowds in real life in others. "That's when we also came up with the 'Modi aane wala hai' truck," the source cites as an example. Though all CAG members worked voluntarily and didn't charge for their services, the project costs were shouldered by sources close to the party. "We didn't charge anything. But everything else, which included equipment, travel, data gathering etc wasn't being funded by us. Not sure who was paying for it, has to be the party and its funders," says the member, unwilling to take names. However, it's easy to assume that the cost of the process must have run into crores given its expanse and the sheer number of individuals and professional expertise, products it banked on. A CAG source says, again on condition of anonymity, that they aren't sure as to 'what place in the government' they will be allowed to occupy now. The natural question that follows is that a direct inclusion in the government cannot happen without following procedures already laid down for government services. "We are not sure if we are going to be a formal part of the government or assist the government as consultants from outside. As of now, we are all exhausted and are on break," he says. Do they think they'll have a role to play in the government? "Yes," replies the source. Do they have an assurance from either Modi or the BJP? "Not really," he adds. "We could also work on project basis, where we pitch projects to separate ministries and work if they get approved," he says, though he is not willing to elucidate on the nature of the projects yet. Will a body like the Indian CAG be Narendra Modi's answer to a 'Shrestha Bharat'? Watch this space for more.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/the-men-behind-indias-biggest-brand-story-the-modi-wave-1563957.html?utm_source=ref_article

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