Friday, January 4, 2013

Untapped Blue Ocean Space in Indian Politics

Indian politics is highly competitive. There are many political parties fighting with each other for the same 55%-60% of the votes. The political parties especially the national parties Congress and BJP are fighting in the Red Ocean with me too products. As a result, none of the parties are getting the full verdict and all of them are getting a small share of the pie. This has resulted in hung parliament and coalition government for past two decades

The strategies of all the political parties are almost same with minor difference. If we draw the value factors on the strategy canvas, their curves will converge with very little difference. They are all going for socialist oriented subsidy based policies with no offering to attract youth. BJP which at one point claimed to be a party with difference has become a copy of Congress. Whenever BJP brings up any issue, the main strategy of Congress is to showcase that they stand for the same thing. People are having a tough time in choosing between the two. The condition is ripe for a blue ocean offering.

India is a young country and more than 50% of its population is below the age of 25. Right now a very small percentage of young people participate in the election. According to Election Commission of India there are 675 million voters in which 40% are youth but the voting turnout of youth in the 2009 general election was between 20-25%. This is a space which is ready to be tapped and the political party which creates a blue ocean strategy mobilizing the energy of youth will be a big victor.

The newly launched AAP party is trying to tap into this energy. But they lack the resources to fully implement their strategy. Also there are some contradictions in the APP party too which will make it difficult for them to fully mobilize youth. The national political party which is ideally placed to go after this group of non-customers is BJP. Generally, youth are anti-establishment and for change. If the situation is going to be status quo then it is difficult to attract their attention and get them excited. If a party is pitching for change for better and is able to resonate with the feelings and imagination of youth then it is much easier to mobilize them. Hence, it will be difficult for Congress to rally the youth as they represent status quo and even though they have a youth leader who is going to take control of the party in near future, the youth are not able to connect with him. The big disadvantage of BJP right now is lack of leadership at the national level that can connect with youth. The only silver lining they have is in the form of Chief Ministers of some of the states. In the recent state election of Gujarat, the voter turnout was very high but still BJP won with a big margin. If the party can fix its national leadership issue and create a coherent strategy which resonates with youth then it will be difficult to stop their juggernaut. One of the mistakes BJP has done is going after the personality of the first family or prime minister. This is a wrong strategy to go as Indian electorate is very sensitive towards weak. BJP ends up creating sympathetic feeling towards PM and first family which back fires on BJP. So the strategy has to be based on concrete value proposition that targets the second tier non-customers of youth rather than going after a negative campaign. Youth are in general aspirational, idealistic and want to achieve great things in life. The strategy has to focus on the aspirational aspect of youth and how the government will play a proactive and clean (corruption free) role in creating the right environment for development. The party does not even have to push for the youth to vote for them. With a proper strategy, all they have to pitch for is just asking them to come out and vote for the right group. The rest will be history!


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