United Voters of India: The Logic of Collective Action (Part 10)

Making It Happen

Political parties are election machines. Even as they indulge in theatrics inside and outside of the legislative bodies, they have a grassroots cadre (voluntary and paid) which comes to life during election time. A good and successful party separates politics and elections. Win every seat is the mantra. To make that happen, they need to focus on two tracks: keep the core enthused and create the ‘hawa’ to swing the non-aligned voters. The base needs to be glued to the floaters to create a sticky selectorate.

Taking on existing political parties is non-trivial. Recreating the organisational system they have built over decades is not easy. If disruption needs to be done, digital is the only alternative. UVI needs to work like a new-generation startup that is taking on the heavyweight incumbents in politics. This mindset can offer ideas on how to make UVI a success.

Firstly, UVI is not competing for the committed voters of existing political parties. That is the red ocean and what all the political parties do with their high decibel and divisive campaigns. UVI needs to focus on the blue ocean – the largely uncontested market of the non-aligned and non-voters, who constitute two-thirds of all eligible voters.

Secondly, UVI cannot replicate the offline presence of the incumbent political parties. It has to go all-digital. Most of India now has a mobile phone, and there is a smartphone with at least one family member. Just like Amazon and its ilk have built all-digital platforms to penetrate the competitive world of retail, UVI needs to build a digital platform to reach out to the blue ocean of NANVs.

Thirdly, UVI must not succumb to the temptation of creating a new political party. Parties have their own distinct dynamics – a few at the top of a political party seek to control the election symbol and everyone else. (In fact, a good election reform would be to get rid of the arcane election symbol – that was needed in the India of two generations ago when illiteracy was very high. It is time to now start putting the names of political parties or the candidate affiliation next to their names on the EVM. A further election reform needed is to replace the EVM itself (as I have written earlier.) UVI’s focus must be to support candidates and parties who get reforms done – or vote against those who don’t. Do it in a couple of elections, and all parties will get the message.

Fourthly, UVI must have a unifying agenda. This must be around the principles of prosperity – a list of 8-10 ideas that work to attract those frustrated about the lack of choice in what the current set of political parties have to offer. This is the white space UVI must target – India has never had a united voting bloc for principles.

To summarise: UVI should become a digital non-party platform targeting the blue ocean of NANVs with an agenda crafted around principles for prosperity and wealth creation to attract at least 1 out of every 10 Indians. This is how citizens can seed the political revolution India needs to engineer the economic transformation that creates a Nayi Disha for the next generation.

Tomorrow: Part 11

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.