• MSN Elections 2014 Battle for India
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 01:15:00 GMT | By The Hindu Business Line

Chaiwalas, masks and other brand mechanics

Narendra Modi was sold to chaiwalas across the country through his periodical Chai pe charcha, which struck a chord among the masses


Chaiwalas, masks and other brand mechanics (© Reuters)

Gandhinagar: Having turned Manishankar Aiyar’s barb into an opportunity, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will file his nomination papers from the Vadodara constituency on Wednesday, with a chaiwala among those to propose his name.

According to sources, Modi will reach the party office in a massive and colourful rally, from where he will proceed to the District Returning Office to file his papers. Among his proposers will be Kiran Mahida, a chaiwala in Khanderao Market of Vadodara, and a member of the BJP since 1990.

Stunning makeover

Modi’s image-makeover is attributed to US-based consultancy agency APCO Worldwide, initially hired by the Gujarat Government in 2007 to market the biennial Vibrant Gujarat investors summits. These summits became the stepping stone for Modi to emerge on the national scene as corporate leaders showered praise on him as an industry- and business-friendly leader. It also created an impression about Gujarat’s development and the State as a destination for investment.

With Modi being named first as the BJP’s campaigner-in-chief and later as the PM aspirant in 2013, this “model” of image-building got a boost.

According to sources, its strategy was simple: promote Modi as the only leader of consequence in the BJP, and target select voter groups, like youth and farmers. This “shopping model” worked professionally to sell the product, Modi, to as many customer-segments as possible.

The BJP leader was sold to chaiwalas across the country through his periodical Chai pe charcha, which struck a chord among the masses. This, like Kejriwal’s image-makeover as someone fixing electricity meters, became a force-multiplier for Modi. His image as a tough, no-nonsense administrator and boasts of his 56-inch chest, among others, helped him project himself at the national level.

Always in news

Modi, with his mastery of political communication, remained in news continuously, for various controversies.

Modi merchandise flooded the market ever since the “Modi masks” emerged in Gujarat. These include saffron caps, tee-shirts and even a balm.

In the current polls, the Modi team, comprising hundreds of tech-savvy youths who often overshadow the RSS and BJP machinery, has seen to it that the product is continuously advertised.

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