Surprisingly barter system and politics are still working. Who’s checking?

freebies for votes?

Continued from: ‘Evolution of a new face of Indian politics’

2)      Cost: Tamil Nadu

Learning from the on ground marketing gurus of Self Help Groups (SHG) the AIADMK modeled their summer election camping on the fundamentals of highlighting cost benefit. SHGs offer products, which although little inferior in quality, are a great buy because of two reasons:

  • They are very competitively priced (cheap)
  • They are sold right at your doorstep

Going to the polls, Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) was already in troubled waters due to allegations of corruption at the centre, party’s first family embroiled in one of the biggest scams and visible cracks in the second rung leadership. These problems had led the pendulum mandate to already predict the verdict in Amma’s favor, however the AIADMK was not ready to take any chances. 

Realizing the opportunity, Amma had to make the people understand and believe, the heavy price Tamil Nadu had to pay for choosing the wrong party to power. Thus, AIADMK campaign adeptly drafted by party veteran O Paneerselvam, had a sole purpose of pointing out the incumbent government’s mistakes. In other words, highlighting the burden (cost) of choosing the wrong option to power was the goal.

The communication had clear focus on two cost criteria:

Firstly, highlight the cost people had to pay for electing DMK to power. Exaggerating monies involved in various scams and stressing upon the exorbitant burden of debt on the state for projects which would not directly affect the lives of Tamilians. 

Secondly, the cost of development, which included all the gifts that Amma promised the Tamil nation, free cable, free TV etc. With a line of freebies announced in the party manifesto; Amma was able to bargain a good price for her return to chief minister’s office.

Amma also launched a campaign CD, distributed from door – to –door, containing information regarding the 2G spectrum and the failures of DMK government on various fronts. It also contained portions of Jayalaitha’s speeches fuelling the peoples’ faith with her promises of freebies and a cleaner government.

The Dravidian politics gave a completely different meaning to the phrase “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.” Game-Set-Match Amma.

Written by Rishi Vaidya for Image Management

Read next: ‘Regional political campaigns- Does simplicity still work?

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