Media Coverage for Election Management and Survey.
Political intelligence is gaining currency in lobbies of power, Snoop For Scoop, Being Holmes , Growing Trend, Money, No Problem , Challenges For Growth.
In today's dynamic politico-social environment coalition dharma is followed by every political party irrespective of its karma and dharma. Every party wants to be in tune with the mood of the masses and the public.
Governments around the world use their intelligence agencies to keep a tab on certain individuals. Similarly, political leaders also need to know relevant information which can bring them closer to the seat of power.
Sniffing a business opportunity in this complex cosmos of alliance politics, private players in the last few years have come up with special services of providing ground report to the political leaders. The concept 'political intelligence' that emerged in 2004-05 is gaining currency in lobbies of power.
SNOOP FOR SCOOP
Private intelligence firms are hired by parties to seek credible information about candidates seeking party ticket or obtain information/feedback about the party's policies and their assessment about the identified political leaders of their own party in their areas of influence.
"There were about two private firms earlier but today this specialised line has lots of takers," said Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman of Lancer Network and Association of Private Detective and Investigators ( APDI).
At present, there are approximately 35 players across India; out of which five are national and the remaining 30 are regional and local. "In the past seven years this field has grown at a staggering 200 to 300 percent," said Mr Singh.
VM Pandit, former CBI chief and chairman of Multi-Dimensional Management Consultancy said, "Although the government has the biggest intelligence machinery and its own party cadres, they are not always reliable as seen during the debacle of Indira Gandhi in 1977 and the drubbing of BJP's 'India Shining' campaign in 2004. So, we act as an unbiased third party."
"The major ground work services provided by us include pre-election constituency-based socio-economic research, background check of prospective candidates seeking ticket, their socio-political status, reputation check. Win-ability factors and dissention levels among prominent workers and local leaders and also to check on the anti-party activity of those who were denied ticket," said Mr Singh.
Services provided by political intelligence firms are quite different from what the general marketing or political research companies, who conduct pre-poll and exit polls jointly with media houses, do. "We conduct multiple-surveys at the grass root level and collect every minute detail," said Vivek Bagri, chairman of Infoelection Leadtech.
"Our work is at the micro-level and concentrates on pre-election study and analyses in order to help parties form strategies to better their performance in the election. Apart from advisory, we also offer campaign management to political parties."
One of the most potent tools used by political intelligence firms to conduct on field surveys is via voters management systems or VMS. It helps in booth level analysis of voters' aspirations from their candidates and party. It helps in analysing their understanding of the political ideologies; impressions on the working of government departments and how factors like caste, religion, community etc will impact voter behaviour.
"Although we are a pan-India player, but we have a close-knit network with most of the regional and local agencies to conduct extensive exercise at ground level. Besides having a dominant presence in their areas, local players have absolute knowledge about the culture and psyche of the constituency," said Mr Singh.
According to national players in this field, the major markets for these service are north and central India; primarily the Hindi-belt such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In the western region, Maharashtra has started to become active while South India is catching up.
MONEY, NO PROBLEM
In business terms, this service seems to be the most lucrative in the service industry. On average, revenues and profits from any assignment at national or state level ranges from 25 to 40 percent. "The fee component for our services and advice is exorbitant.
For instance, an MP ticket candidate has Rs 2 crore as the election budget, around 20 percent of which is spent on election intelligence. A similar mechanism is there for state elections too. The USP of this field is that money is never a problem," said Mr Pandit.
CHALLENGES FOR GROWTH
Because of the concepts novelty it faces challenges like, lack of experts and skilled professionals to execute undercover reporting, training courses or modules. Players are very optimistic about their growth prospects.
"Today elections are being fought using the latest tools and technology for focused and in-depth analysis at all levels. No party or individual candidate can afford to strategise and launch its election campaign without a pre-electorate survey and on-ground analysis," said Mr Bagri.
Kunwar Vikram Singh, one of the pioneers of this field feels that this specialised service will spill over to other areas too for its effectiveness.
He explained, "The Planning Commission and departments such as the rural development ministry will soon hire us as third party auditors to check if various government schemes are being implemented on the ground and whether funds are being judiciously disbursed in order to avoid humiliating scams."
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