PATNA:One factor that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is counting on to form the next government in Bihar is Prashant Kishor’s well-crafted tricks that helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi win the 2014 General Elections with mass connect programmes. Kishor knows Modi’s mind, and this is a huge advantage for Nitish. Kishor is using colours, social media such as Facebook and Twitter to make Modi react, instead of the other way round.
A major alteration in the campaign was that of colour: Nitish’s JD(U) dropped its green-coloured flags, which are associated with socialists, and switched to red, the colour of Left parties.
“The bright red colour will add political meaning in Bihar, as it was considered the colour of revolution and was used by Left parties. The subaltern section of society has an inclination for this colour. To some extent, it will also dilute the impact of the colour saffron used by the BJP,” says political analyst Ajay Kumar Jha.
The JD(U)’s colour-changing exercise is also aimed at not being confused with the RJD’s green. “We have planned outdoor and electronic media campaigns taking note of the impact of colour. You will find homogeneity in the campaign colours across the state,” says a member of the India Political Action Committee (IPAC), the organisation headed by Kishor.
Yellow and red are the colours of their online campaign as well. Keeping in mind the electoral power of the youth and their Internet accessibility, they are also using Google’s advertisement network to reach out to voters through websites related to Bihar.
This team is handling Nitish’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and is posting well-researched information to counter the aggressive campaign of BJP leaders, especially Modi’s barbs at the CM. The team keeps forcing Modi to react on certain issues raised by Nitish, like the claim of repackaging old projects as special packages.
While the BJP and its allies are putting a lot of money in newspaper advertisements, Kishor’s campaign team has avoided following suit; instead, it prefers radio advertising. TV ads have been minimal.
Kishor’s squad has also designed a cycle carrying the message of seven commitments by the CM called ‘Nitish Nischay’ with the slogan “Nitish ka nishchay: vikas ki guarantee”.
“The JD(U) had ordered 5,000 bicycles for giving them to its field workers to campaign across the state,” said a party leader. The background colour of billboards on the cycles was yellow; so were the volunteers’ T-shirts. This was planned for villages that have poor road connectivity. “The campaign proved cost-effective as it didn’t need any fuel. It conveyed the message more effectively than the BJP’s high-tech raths,” says party spokesperson Niraj Kumar.
In branding Nitish, Kishor and his team are very careful to distance him from Lalu Prasad and Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Initially, Nitish’s billboards didn’t give space to any other leaders of the Grand Alliance. “This was deliberately done to keep Nitish’s persona above them as people still trust him and he is seeking a third term,” says a party leader close to the CM.