For the BJP to rule India, it needs to first understand that it is a prisoner of two captors - the Median Voter Theorem and Statistics - and then plan an escape. The Median Voter Theorem states that in a majority election, if voter policy preferences can be represented points along a single axis, then voters vote deterministically for the politician who commits to a policy position closest to their preference.
To paraphrase this, the median voter decides election outcomes. So if it’s a two-horse race (say Congress v. BJP), then the politician who commits to the policy position preferred by the median voter wins.This means that if either candidate commits to a policy position away from the median, that candidate receives less than half the vote. So who is the median voter in India? That depends on various factors like age, wealth, caste, education, social standing, interests, location, and so on.
But most importantly, the median voter is one who sits in the middle of a policy spectrum. Let’s illustrate this using income tax policy. On the extreme right of the policy spectrum would be voters who believe income taxes should be abolished (the libertarians) and on the extreme left would be voters who believe taxes should be very high (the egalitarians).And in the middle sits the median voter who believes in moderate taxes (to finance our corpulent state). Now for a short lesson in Statistics.
Applying the Law of Large Numbers and the Central Limit Theorem, given our 1. 2 billion population which includes 400 million actual voters, the expectation is that for any policy that politicians choose to espouse from their pulpits, voters will form a normal distribution (recollect the bell-shaded curve? ). This means that the number of voters around the median will far outnumber those at the left and right. So now who determines the final policy? The voter in the middle.Any other policy will yield less than 50% of the vote.
The essence of the Median Voter Theorem. The Congress party has over successive Gandhi generations learnt that the median is the place to be even if it means deceiving people that it is committed to the median. The BJP on the other hand needs a crash course in Game Theory to understand that its election manifesto needs to eject policies on either side of the median. A read of the BJP election manifesto (policies to which it is committed) reveals the following:1. The manifesto begins with India in the “4th century BC”, “foreign attacks and alien rule”, “Magesthenes and Fa-Hian”. Who are these guys and who cares anyway.
2. Now to more substantive issues. The arguments for “Stability and Security” begin with an attack on the Congress party. Great publicity for the Congress.3. Their leader to deliver change to the “aam admi” was L.
K. Advani. Interesting, till we learn he was the General who commanded the “Ayodhya movement”.4.
The assurances for “National Security” begin with Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Get the picture? Economy and jobs came in at page 19 and farmers at page 22; long after foreign policy and nuclear weapons.The manifesto is a fabric of policy positions purportedly weaved around Good Governance, Development and Security - all good median policy issues. Unfortunately, the fabric is heavily stained with references to non-median policies (Uniform Civil Code: page 35, Ram Temple: page 48, Pakistan pages 10, 14, 16, 44). As a result, the median voter is bewildered.
What are these guys talking about? Are they really committed to Good Governance, Development and Security? Will Good Governance, Development and Security be delivered on the back of Ayodhya’s or Pakistan’s blood stained streets?Not great median policy articulation. So what escape options does the BJP have? For one, it could attempt to change the shape of that bell-shaded curve by hoping for or crafting a metamorphosis of the median voter. But history tells us that is the territory of fascists, dictators, and despised communists. And, as history again tells us, a strategy pre-destined for failure.
So how should the BJP plan its escape from political obscurity? Hire Tony Blair or Bill Clinton? Maybe not. Well, at least understand what they did. Under their leadership, the heavily left leaning Democrats in the U. S. and Labor Party in the U.
K. redefined not the median voter but the median policy.They re-crafted the political image of the party to suit the median voter. How did they do this? Not through hubristic intra-party meetings and by ranting on prime-time TV, but through focus groups, opinion polls, town-hall meetings and grass-root interactions. Tony and Bill felt the pulse of the median voter and devised policies that resonated with the preferences of the median voter.
Then they committed (credibly it appears) to these policies. So the million-rupee question is: Will the BJP get off its high horse led rath and engage with the median voter?