Campaign India Team
Aug 10, 2023

IAA Leadership Awards 2023: Everything a politician portrays must be backed by action - Devendra Fadnavis

The Deputy CM of Maharashtra was in conversation with Anant Goenka, executive director, The Indian Express Group and head of new media, The Indian Express

IAA Leadership Awards 2023: Everything a politician portrays must be backed by action - Devendra Fadnavis
Devendra Fadnavis, Deputy CM of Maharashtra, shared his thoughts on ‘politicians’ as a brand, and on what has changed in communication in politics today vis-à-vis over a decade ago, in a candid conversation with Anant Goenka, executive director, The Indian Express Group and head of new media, The Indian Express at the IAA Leadership Awards.
“Politics is all about building a brand. It’s all about communication”, said Fadnavis during the 10th edition of the IAA Leadership Awards, which took place in Mumbai on 9 August.
Speaking about the brand ‘politician’ Fadnavis stated, “Today those politicians who are the best communicators are the ones who have been winning elections or the support of the people."
“Like that there are several leaders in the country who’ve developed their own brand, their own politics, their own style of communication. That’s what’s needed in today’s politics I think,” he added.
Taking a dig at today’s social media culture, Fadnavis added how today one’s personality is also defined by what type of Reels one makes, or what type of Reels people watch of you. "Politics is all about perception, hence it's a big challenge," he noted.
“Today what sells better makes news,” he added, pointing out how in the movies the role of a villain has changed. "Earlier when dacoits and smugglers used to be portrayed as villains, today one only finds politicians or policemen playing the role," he said.
Fadnavis also weighed in on the changes in communication as a politician today vis-à-vis 13 years ago.
“I think what’s changed is that 13 years ago it was more deeper communication. It was more serious. Today there’s so much to consume, it’s all about perception. People have a very short memory because every second they’ve something to consume - either on their mobile or on TV or some other media. So today it’s about just making your point,” he said.
So is there a need to be louder and more sensational to be heard as a politician, Goenka questioned.
Fadnavis replied, “I don’t think you’ve to be louder, but you’ve to be smarter. It is a time when your communication has to be very smart. And of course, smart communication may create a few sensations. But if you just go on creating sensations and that sensation is not backed by your actions then people will not believe in you. So everything that you portray must be backed by action.”
He also shared how there are times when one needs to be ‘liberal with the truth’ to stay in the seat. “I’ve convinced myself there are always three sides- one is your side, one’s my side and one’s the true side. You’ve to have the conviction that you are right but there is always a true side,” said Fadnavis.
He also confessed that there are times when one has to duck the question because one just cannot justify every single thing.
Shedding light on the necessity of being in an alliance to stay in power, Fadnavis spoke about the current coalition government formed by BJP in Maharashtra with Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP.  He said, “For me to stay relevant in the politics, this alliance was necessary. Had it not been I wouldn’t have gone with them. But today when everybody is rooting against me, my party, and against my leader then I cannot say, 'No, I’ll fight alone come what may. I’ll sacrifice and become a martyr..'”
He added candidly that while he has great respect for martyrs, nobody remembers them beyond a point. “People don’t even light candles after a few years,” noting that one can only fight by remaining in the game.
On being sometimes forced to match one’s convictions with what the audience’s convictions are in this game of politics, Fadnavis agreed. “Ultimately you’ve to be relevant in the game. And to be relevant we are in a democracy. And in a democratic world, you’ve to think of and match with people’s aspirations, and as a leader, one has to mould people's aspirations. So it’s always a fight between matching the aspiration and moulding the aspirations," he said.
“Matching the aspirations is easy. You’ve to swim with the flow. But moulding the aspirations is very tough. And I think as a leader you’ve to understand going with the flow is not always the way. You can win elections by going with the flow, but if you want real transformation, that can come only when you can mould the views of people and aspirations of people,” he said.
Campaign India

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