BJP's Science Of Electioneering

Unmasking the factors the BJP has used in every election since Modi became the supremo

Photo: Reuters

An election in India is a beautiful game. It reassures people that democracy is still alive and the public has faith in its functioning. Like in a game, the team which plays with planning; does its homework seriously; and, puts into play its strategies before the start of the game, wins the battle. In the recently held assembly elections, the BJP could defeat the Congress, which was the favourite of pollsters and political analysts, because of its better planning and micro-management till the last mile. In fact, the BJP, under Narendra Modi, has evolved a science, a formula, tested several times in its political laboratory, for fighting and winning elections. Like a scientific praxis, an election infrastructure has been created. In every election, this science is put into motion with minor tweaking, depending upon the political pitch of the state. In these elections, in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the same template was in full play. This template is an amalgam of Hindutva, organisational muscle power, propaganda and ultra-modern technological equipment, which together created a beast that is mythologised as unbeatable. This apparatus can be fragmented into the following subheadings.

I am a Hindu

The BJP had never shied from calling itself a Hindu party but before Modi became the supremo, it hesitated to ask for votes purely in the name of Hindus. Modi turned the Hindu coin into a robust currency. Today, to be Hindu is no shame, rather to vote as a Hindu is a badge of honour and collectively, the community can attain the greatest glory which was alluded to in the past. Modi’s success lies in making Hindus believe that to vote for Modi/BJP is not simply an electoral exercise, but a participation in a larger cosmic goal. This unending chorus defies the logic of time and space; it is repeated infinitely to subconsciously make every Hindu a ‘dharma Rakshak’. Thus to vote for the BJP becomes a religious task, it is for the protection of the Hindu dharma.

Modi’s success lies in making Hindus believe that to vote for Modi/BJP is not simply an electoral exercise, but a participation in a larger cosmic goal.

Othering the ‘Other’

The ‘I am a Hindu’ epithet is organically linked with the ‘othering of others’. Who are these others? These are of three kinds—minorities, especially Muslims, communists and liberal Hindus who are opposed to the ideology of the RSS. They are projected as enemies of the Hindus and of the nation, who are constantly working against the Hindu dharma. In this election, the prime minister himself reminded the voters of Rajasthan about the murder of Kanhaiya Lal. He was killed by two Muslims in broad daylight in Udaipur after the prophet episode. Yogi Adityanath tried to scare voters by taking the name of the Palestinian organisation, Hamas, which had killed more than a thousand Jews in Israel in the most gruesome manner. This was a despicable act which has nothing to do with Hindus in India, but Hamas’ name was taken to suggest how Muslims behave, and if not restrained, then the same can happen to Hindus in India too. This scaremongering is a very potent weapon to keep their vote bank intact.


“Hindus were victims of Muslim invaders for hundreds of years,” has been the calling card of the RSS ideology since its inception in 1925, but Modi has personalised this victimhood to himself. Since the Gujarat riots, he has projected himself as the victim of Hindus haters. This strategy was so successful that the then top leader of the BJP, L K Advani, was heard saying many times that no other leader had been as vilified as Narendra bhai. In these elections, when Rahul Gandhi used the word Panauti (bad omen) in a lighter vein for Modi, Modi went to town saying how he was being abused. Be it the 2007 Gujarat election, when he was called Maut ka Saudagar (merchant of death), or in 2014, when Mani Shankar Iyer used the chaiwala jibe for him, or as recently as the Gujarat elections, when Mallikarjun Kharge compared him with Ravan, Modi used these opportunities to gain the people’s sympathy. In fact, he has claimed that he had been abused by opposition leaders 91 times.

Saviour of the People

Modi has not lost a single election since he became the chief minister of Gujarat. As a chief minister, he used to project himself as a leader who works all the time for the six crore Gujaratis. After becoming the prime minister, his cult makers are busy projecting him as a saviour of the people who is working 18 hours a day to guard India from its enemies and working hard to make the country great again, and the nation is safe as long as he is the prime minister. In this election too, he repeated many times that as long as he is there, no Indian will sleep on an empty stomach, in the context of extending the free ration scheme for another five years for 80 crore people. It is another matter that it was done to counter the Congress’ welfare schemes.

No other party has used technology as effectively as the BJP. It is the first party to exploit the reach of Facebook, X and other social media platforms.

Discrediting the Opposition

The BJP led by Modi has never failed to rubbish the opposition as anti-development and corrupt to the core. Just before and during every election, investigating agencies are used unashamedly against opposition leaders. Notices served by the ED to Ashok Gehlot’s son, the ED raids on Rajasthan PCC president, Govind Dotasra and his two sons’ residences, arrests of those who were close to erstwhile Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel, and bringing Baghel’s name in the Mahadev App case by the ED, are examples of this tactic.

Direct Connect

No other party has used technology as effectively as the BJP. It is the first party to exploit the reach of Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and other social media platforms to connect with every section of society and spread their messages. Just before this election, the prime minister himself opened his channel on WhatsApp and requested people to follow and subscribe. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP had created 42,000 WhatsApp groups to communicate with their booth workers and tasked them with reminding voters about the welfare schemes of Modi and Chauhan governments and making a list of people who could not avail of them for re-enforcement purposes.


Organisation—The Beast

Organisation and its cadre have been the BJP’s real strength. No other party, including the Congress, can match it on this front. But Modi and Amit Shah have turned this organisation into a phenomenally efficient election machine. The BJP was very vulnerable this time in Madhya Pradesh. Most political pundits were of the opinion that the BJP might lose. But Amit Shah himself took charge. The target was to motivate lakhs of workers manning 64,523 booths to get 51 per cent of the votes polled in every booth. To keep booth volunteers motivated, separate Shakti Kendra in-charge personnel were made to coordinate between six and eight booth volunteers. In contrast, the Congress’ booth management was lacklustre, to say the least.



The BJP is never averse to taking risks. In this election—when it was predicted that the BJP might lose Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and could face a tough fight in Rajasthan—it boldly decided to sideline its top state leaders to neutralise anti-incumbency against the party. Instead of projecting Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh as CM candidates, it went ahead with the collective leadership. It seems to have worked. Such a gamble paid off earlier in Gujarat, when the entire cabinet, including the CM, was dropped, and replaced by new leaders. A complete non-entity, Pushkar Singh Dhami, was made the CM of Uttarakhand and it worked too.


Always Flexible

Modi called freebies a scourge on India’s economy in Jalaun, UP, in July this year, but when the party realised that it had helped the Congress win elections in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, it did the same. If the Congress promised to give gas cylinders for Rs 500, then the BJP promised to give it for Rs 450 to Rajasthan’s voters. The Ladli Behna Scheme of the Chauhan Government is another example of this pragmatism.

Propaganda—The Staple Diet

Lies and half-truths are the biggest tools for ideological parties across the world. The BJP is no exception. In this pursuit, its friends in the media, especially news channels, played a very important role in stitching together a narrative. In this election, the Hamas narrative was peddled to spread Islamophobia. It helped to consolidate Hindu voters. It was constantly said on TV debates that the killers of Kanhaiya Lal had a free run. It was not mentioned that the killers were arrested within hours and the case was handed over to the NIA, a central agency, and nobody knows what that central agency has done till now, but the Gehlot government was portrayed as the villain.


In contrast, against the BJP’s science of electioneering, the Congress never had a plan. Instead of evolving a strategy to counter the BJP, it depended on Stone Age leaders who had no clue about the modern techniques. In the age of AI, they preferred the robots of the past who are called darbaris. To fight the Modi-led BJP, the Congress-led opposition has to crack the science of the BJP’s election machine. Till then, the opposition can only be Ram Bharose.

(Views expressed are personal)

Ashutosh is Editor, and author of Hindu Rashtra

(This appeared in the print as 'Science Of Electioneering')