Government welfare schemes will be the main talking points of the BJP election campaign. (Mint)
Government welfare schemes will be the main talking points of the BJP election campaign. (Mint)

Elections 2019: BJP sets the tone for poll campaign with ‘ease of living’ pitch

  • BJP's election campaign for 2019 will target financially and socially weaker sections that have gained from various government schemes
  • The election campaign over the next two months is estimated to cost around 2,500 crore, with 20-25 agencies deployed for the job

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) media campaign for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will revolve around “ease of living", targeting financially and socially weaker sections that have gained from various government welfare programmes.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) election campaign will continue over the next two months; industry experts estimate it will cost around 2,500 crore, with 20-25 creative agencies deployed to manage its traditional and social media strategies.

The strategy is to reach out to voters outside the party’s traditional base. Social programmes on financial inclusion, ensuring electricity for all and providing cooking gas for poor households have benefited people who traditionally don’t vote for the BJP.

“We had got little over 17.1 crore (171 million) votes in the 2014 general elections. But when we look at the development work of the government, at least 22 crore (220 million) people have benefited from different schemes of the government," said a senior BJP leader aware of the party’s media strategy. “These beneficiaries are people who have not traditionally been voters of BJP. These are people who may not have voted for BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections, but have the potential of voting for BJP since they have benefited by the work of the government."

BJP leaders believe that the government has managed to curb corruption and leakages by introducing direct benefit transfer.

Senior leaders also believe that schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, housing for all and the minimum support scheme for farmers would be the main talking points of the BJP campaign.

Shekhar Banerjee, managing partner at media agency Wavemaker India said this election would be a lot about grassroots development that the government had delivered with a strategy of “show and tell".

“Ease of living is the basic theme of this election campaign," said the senior BJP leader cited earlier. The 2014 general elections had witnessed a turnout of 170-180 million voters, he said, while the past five years have seen 320 million benefiting from the government schemes.

The election campaign will be across English, Hindi and regional language newspapers, outdoor advertisements and discussions on radio channels similar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radio programme, Mann Ki Baat, besides limited social media engagement on websites such as Twitter.

Industry experts, on condition of anonymity, also emphasized that the BJP was very strategic about building polling booth trackers and measuring sentiments, both formally and informally.

To be sure, the party is also expected to embrace a strong brand of nationalism in its campaign. The recent Pulwama terror attack, experts say, will give BJP ample opportunities to convey explicit messages on nationalism, including slogans and songs, particularly on apps such as WhatsApp, against those it sees as acting against Indian interests.

“This is the election of an incumbent government that wants to come back," said Harish Bijoor, brand strategy expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults. According to him, every winning campaign has both tangible and intangible elements of appeal for the electorate.

“The other (intangible) banks on what is emotional and real. There may have been a lack of credibility there thus far (but now after the Pulwama attack), nationhood is a huge emotional pool," added Bijoor.