Elections and Leadership Lessons – 8. Strategy

The political scene is akin to the business scenario, there is money involved, leadership involved, strategy involved and most of all competition involved. Competition is bad enough to even get people killed as we saw post polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Think of the scenario during elections. You had two well established parties, the Congress and the BJP. The new entrant was AAP. AAP was full of enthusiasm as they started, since they had come in as the second largest party in the Delhi elections. With misplaced enthusiasm or as rumors go, Congress giving them money, they changed their strategy mid-way to fight elections from 400+ seats rather than the 60 or 70 as they had originally planned. They crowd sourced money, which was insufficient. Several other blunders included – bringing in celebrities with no experience in fighting elections, the leader Arvind Kejriwal becoming focussed on the opposition’s popular candidate Narendra Modi, just a single election issue of corruption, refusal to look at local issues and ofcourse a leadership crisis, with Arvind Kejriwal working through his coterie and not listening to the worker on the ground.

If only AAP had taken lessons from Prof Kale, he would have taught them Michael Porter’s five forces model and it would have been evident that they should not even have entered the Lok Sabha elections. This is how the five forces stack up –

Barriers to entry – LOW, any one can form a party and fight elections above the age of 18
Threat of substitutes – HIGH,every party could be substituted for the other
Buyers bargaining power – HIGH, we the voters could choose not to vote… So parties had to work hard to keep us away from the NOTA (None of the above) option.
Suppliers bargaining power – HIGH, again we voters supplied the votes and this time we had a huge influx of first time voters who were very aware of the issues and didn’t go by any media buildup.
Intensity of rivalry – VERY HIGH, the stakes were really high this time. The huge focussed campaign run by the BJP and the money power of Congress were on full display. Some of the muck unearthed about many candidates was alarming. Every trick in the bag was tried and new tricks invented. The rhetoric was eloquent at times and nauseating some times, the personal attacks by the ill-informed children of Sonia was in poor taste. Mr. Modi had strong retorts and the way he ran the campaign, it didn’t leave much to chance. So the rivalry/competition was intense.

With this scenario, ideally AAP should not even have entered the fray, even with their offensive charge of trying to change the political industry structure and the differentiation they tried to showcase …. They just didn’t have the experience or organization structure to pull this off. All the motivational quotes fail if they are applied to the wrong context.

What should AAP do now ? They were disruptive in Delhi and should have continued to consolidate their position. They might want to regroup and re-energise themselves to stick to Delhi, try and win the elections in Delhi and not do drama and Dharnas but try and learn governance. They will have to swallow their pride and watch Mr. Modi carefully and learn execution and strategy formulation. Attend a few classes on strategy and hire a good strategist. Once they get the issues right, they need to find the solutions and stick around long enough to execute, face failure, sometimes succeed and always learn. Mr. Modi governed a state for 12 years before trying for the top job, it didn’t happen overnight.

AAP has to do a deep rethink and gather the flock that is quickly running away :):). Maybe it’s time for a leadership change too.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: