Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jan Chetna Yatra: A Fiasco in Making

The Jan Chetna Yatra by Shri L. K. Advani, flagged today from the State I am currently sitting in, could not have come at a more inappropriate time, promising to damage the BJP’s image and prospects to a large extent. It is startling that the person who had spent 90% of his time in the opposition benches (Narendra Modi, 2011) is capable of making such an erroneous political move. By positioning his proposed thirty eight days yatra as a means to initiate mass awareness and mass mobilization in order to create new awakening against corruption and black money (Narendra Modi, 2011), the veteran leader has completely miscalculated the impact of such a move. Let us utilize Porter’s Generic Strategies to deconstruct the aptness of this yatra by the supposed Prime Minister-in-wating.

To the un-initiated, Porter’s Generic Strategies (Porter, 1985) constitutes three approaches to position an institution with respect to its competitors in order to be competitively viable. The term “generic” was used by Porter for he argues that the approaches are applicable across products and services of institutions of any size. The three approaches are:

(1)Cost leadership i.e. no frills

(2)Differentiation i.e. creation of uniquely desirable products and services

(3)Focus i.e. offering of specialized services in niche market

On viewing critically the Jan Chetna Yatra, which can be viewed as just another platform (read ‘product’) in offering to the Indian public, seasoned by now to fight corruption wars on the street, I argue that primarily the BJP has failed to differentiate itself from the just concluded and still talked about scuffle between Anna Hazare and the Government. Advani’s words in Sitabdarai, “I am confident that the steps to fight against corruption, be it Lokpal, black money, will be taken up in the coming session of Parliament” (Advani, 2011), falls flat against the antics of Team Anna who literally made the Government burn the midnight oil. I feel sorry to note that over time, the opposition in our democracy has also been reduced to a position, with mindless criticisms emerging now and then that contribute more to decibels than ring a warning bell. The BJP ought to go back to drawing board and think of something different. Innovation does enhance visibility if not acceptance, and the BJP which been living long under the shadows of its former self as well as activists like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, needs to rechristen itself and actually live for the Bharatiya Janta (Indian People) which it so proudly proclaims. Parroting Anna & Co. shall ruin the Congress but shall not bring the BJP to power.

Having argued above that the Jan Chetna Yatra is nothing but the old wine in new bottle, it is imperative that we look at the means employed for the desired end. Shri Advani shall traverse the length and breadth of the country through a rathor chariot which in fact is a bus that has been reconfigured by the ace vehicle designer Dilip Chhabria at a workshop in Pimpri, near Pune (Deshpande, 2011). Although the BJP top brass has maintained a stoic silence on the amenities available in the chariot, yet history often repeats itself, and thus can be expected to repeat itself this time too. Back in 1990, when Chhabria had designed the chariot for Advani's yatra to mobilise support for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, air-conditioned rest room, public address system and a satellite TV system in the vehicle drew more crowds than the speeches (Deshpande, 2011). I would like to believe that the reconfigured vehicle had more to do then towards generating a favourable perception of people for the saffron party than the “Ramrajya” speeches. At least I was enamoured by the same. The vehicle spoke of a change that was drastically missing and frantically aspired for in 1990s. However 2011 needs a person who is untouched by opulence and steadfast in integrity. The Messiah must rise from the least prosperous and the most harassed. In the season of scams, he must have the least access to prosperity. Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev did fit the people’s image of a perfect leader, clean, courageous and communicative. Shri Advani with his fashionable rathshall be left alone in this battle to display the maximum frugality. The BJP has lost the focus. When the aam aadmi(ordinary citizen) has been denied the haath (hand) of Congress, which was promised in the elections, thanks to the unrestricted loot by its allies, the BJP ought to have come as an aam (ordinary) party. Impression management is a pre-requisite for effective management and knowledge and application of it always helps.

We need to be free of corruption and we shall be, but no thanks shall be due for the same to BJP or the Congress or to Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav who claimed that “Advani is spoiling the birth place of Jaya Prakash Narayan in Bihar” (Yadav, 2011). It is surprising that Laluji still points finger at other politicians post his public rejection in the 2010 Bihar elections. Anyways it is the nature of Indian politics: to bite without right. I believe that corruption has no institutional cure; rather corruption has been institutionally designed and is sustained till a hue and cry emerges from the least benefited party (or least corrupt party). Hence the cure is primarily contingent on individual refinement which is in turn contingent on the education one receives and never one’s attendance on a political juggernaut. Has the UPA or the BJP done enough on education? That shall be the subject of another blog.


1. Modi, Narendra (2011), ‘Full Text: Modi’s open letter on Advani’s Yatra’(retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/full-text-modis-open-letter-on-advanis-yatra/191899-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)

2. Porter, Michael E. (1985), Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, The Free Press: New York

3. Advani, Lal Krishna (2011), ‘Advani begins his yatra, criticises ‘corrupt’ UPA’(retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/advani-blames-corrupt-upa-of-clinging-to-power/192091-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)

4. Deshpande, Priyankka (2011), ‘Advani yatra set to roll today on made-in-Pune rath’(retrieved from http://www.mid-day.com/news/2011/oct/111011-pune-Advani-yatra-set-to-roll-today-on-made-in-Pune-rath.htm, on 11.10.2011)

5. Yadav, Lalu Prasad (2011), ‘Advani's yatra an insult to Bihar's land: Lalu’ (retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/advanis-yatra-an-insult-to-bihars-land-lalu/191866-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)


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