Rahul Gandhi is a poor “story teller”
Rahul Gandhi is the son, grand son and great grand son of Prime Ministers. He is born in one of the most powerful families in India. He is a prince yet to be crowned. Not that he is the first of such leaders in India. There are many 2nd and 3rd generation politicians who are born in rich, wealthy families with influence. And many such leaders have done good work and earned the respect of their people. E.g. Nehru was the most charismatic leaders of his time. Indira Gandhi had a difficult time even opening her mouth in the Parliament (from where “Gungi Gudiya” came). But despite all that she rose to power by herself (obviously with help of colleagues) and earned the love and respect of Indian voters (before Emergency). She single handedly defeated the Syndicate , Swatantrata Party and Jan Sangh to win comprehensively in the Lok Sabha.
So what is so uncharismatic about Rahul Gandhi. Why does he not earn the respect and trust of the voters (even Congressmen) as her mother did in late 90s/early 2000s. Why can’t the youth connect to him. I find the major flaw in the story he builds around himself. One of the most important concepts of marketing is that you never sell facts or figures, you always sell stories. A story that is built around your personality (for an individual) or a product or a service (for a company). Now, Modi has built an excellent, sell-able story. A no nonsense man who has a vision for India and believes in development. He has complimented this story with Vibrant Gujarat, large industries, great infrastructure etc and aggressive marketing for all of the above. You believe in the story of Modi. You believe that this man will deliver what he is talking about because he has built a personality around these points. Some of the figures and facts in that development model may be wrong, bogus and plain lies but now people have bought that story and they either still defend Modi or ignore those facts completely. Now he is trying to link that story with another one – of being from very humble background. And these two are not complimenting but not conflicting either. So he has these two niche marked for himself, he has an identity around that.
Even Kejriwal has a story of an honest, simple man who believes in restoring power in the hands of Aam Aadmi. He dresses very simple, always with a chappal, travels in a Wagon R etc. I don’t say he does it to make a point, he must truly believe in it, but you can’t deny that it adds to that Aam Aadmi image of his. So he has also told a great sell-able story.
Now what does Rahul Gandhi do. He is a prince, born with a silver spoon and he can never shed that unless he leaves 10 Janpath and lives on his own. He claims to be an outsider (even MSM idiots try to project him as one) when he is the most insider person in the system. But he always tries to project himself as being an ordinary folk. He will work as a labor (NREGA) for camera, eat at a dalit’s house, but people will always see all this as gimmicks. He really does not belong there. And he can’t change that perception . He must not even try all this. When he travels in a local in Mumbai you can’t actually relate to it. Has he ever done those things again. Will he ever do it again, unless elections are round the corner and he has learnt nothing from the past. You never see Raj Thackeray or Sachin Pulot or Jyoti Scindia ever do it. You don’t have to do it. You talk about other things that do not contradict your image.
He talks about ending dynasty politics while he is the biggest beneficiary of dynasty. And can he really wish to topple dynasty politics which will harm him the most one day. People will never believe these lies. He talks about ending corruption while UPA II has been the most corrupt government ever. I don’t suggest that he start endorsing corruption but he should not talk about ending corruption now when his party’s government is mired with scandals. Just like Modi will never talk about communal harmony and secularism because people will never believe him on that subject.
Rahul Gandhi must realize that Congress is in its worst shape since independence and there is nothing Congress can do to revive its image before 2014 elections. Unless BJP or Modi make a folly and that benefits Congress there is little Congress can do that people will believe. According to the perception matrix, you can never change a mild negative reaction to mild positive but you can change a mild positive reaction to strong positive very easily. Rahul Gandhi must target the next elections and enter with a new marketing strategy. No more trying to be a common man, no more trying to be an outsider, no more telling incoherent stories. He has to play by his strengths (first he must find those) and then market those strengths aggressively.
Inputs (perception matrix) from Amit Kumar.