Rahul Gandhi has been made into a national joke. People think he is completely incapable of leadership, and has been given the mantle due to nepotism. They are partly right. However, for better or worse Rahul Gandhi must work at redeeming himself in eyes of the populace, or make space for his sister. Politics, like brand building is all about perceptions. At least, that is one way of looking at it. Often a product doesn’t sell with strategy X, even after trying hard and employing all the dirty tricks in the book. Why? Possibly because it has some irredeemable quality. And who better can teach turning irredeemable things into USPs than Volkswagen?
Accept who you are
The Volkswagen Beetle was a ‘reasonably ugly’ car when it launched. So there was no chance of it competing with likes of Chryslers and Fords. It completely turned this handicap into an advantage by accepting what it was, and created the campaign aptly launched as ‘the Ugly one’. It garnered a lot of sympathy for the brand. Rahul Gandhi is often thought to be naive, and yet he pretends to be all knowing, big boy. He is not that, nor will he ever be. However, naivety is excusable for three types. Artists, idealists, and the young. So in order to accept his naivety, he must choose either of the three.
From Pariah to a dreamer
Rahul Gandhi needs success desperately, and in order to achieve that he must learn from his enemy. Narendra Modi is an expert at selling dreams and successfully shedding the tag of a political pariah. He has an advantage though.In many ways he is a suave charmer that is easy to believe in. Yet, he is a seasoned politician, so his dreams are received with skepticism. Rahul on the other hand has no such backlog. If he can come up with compelling dreams for the nation, he will be ridiculed yet again, but back your dream with little data and people may notice. Right now, he just needs to occupy the mind-space again without being completely kejriwalled.
A fresh Start
To rebuild his political career, Rahul must first wipe the slate clean. It means getting rid of culture of sycophancy and elitism in his party. The new party line should be own up sins of their forefathers. Only then will people trust them again. There is also a need to do some hard word in constituencies that they own. Think of it like advertisement for the new ‘launch’. Once again, learning from the Gujarat model of trumpeting may help. Concentrate on things that directly impact voters like roads, electricity, and cleanliness, and you would soon have a ‘model town’ that you can show off as your ‘dream’. Take notes from Anna, visit to Ralegaon Siddhi perhaps.
In many ways, Congress as a brand is dying it’s natural death, so it may not be so bad to re-brand it, much like how Snap-deal has done with themselves.Get rid of the hand and tri-colors. It seems ridiculously transparant, but symbols are powerful, they can recreate excitement. It’s a huge gambit, but if Rahul Gandhi backs it up with some token actions, like retiring Mani Shankar Aiyyar, and making Shashi Tharoor, the vice president, he would have a very good chance of at least surviving. Then, it would be pretty much a long struggle to gain back trust, but it’s not impossible. Will this change anything for India? Maybe not, but it will be worth my time to see how it works.