Modi, Trump campaigns similar, both play with people's emotions: Congress leader Sam Pitroda

According to Pitroda, former US president Barack Obama was the first leader to make use of digital technology with an aim to mobilise young people

Modi, Trump campaigns similar, both play with people's emotions: Congress leader Sam Pitroda

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump's campaign strategies are similar as both rely on "playing" with people's emotions, Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda said Monday.

Speaking on 'political campaigns in the digital era', Pitroda, a long-time Gandhi family adviser, said digital era is about sound bytes, gimmicks, and videos as opposed to the in depth analysis by journalists earlier.

He said the real use of digital technology in campaigns started visibly during the Obama-era.

Former US president Barack Obama was the first one to really use digital technology to mobilise young people, Pitroda said, delivering the second Madhavan Kutty Memorial Lecture.
He said it was Trump who recently capitalised on digital media.

"His (Trump's) strategy was similar to Modi's strategy. What was the strategy, the strategy was -- there is enemy at the border -- in that case it was Mexican, and enemy also as people in the country, immigrants.

"Very similar, Modi says that there is enemy at the border...Anything you say immediately everyone attacks you. The media is party to it," Pitroda said.

"Second strategy Trump had -- 'Nobody knows anything. I have all the answers. Hillary Clinton is zero, Democratic Party did not do anything'. Same with Mr Modi -- Congress did nothing for 70 years," he said, asking how did India make advancements in areas such as atomic energy, milk revolution, and Green Revolution.

"It is an insult to the people of India that nothing got done in 70 years," he said.

Pitroda said it was due to digital campaign that facts can be twisted.

"It worked in India and it worked in the US. Today, digital media also amplifies lies in a big way mainly because you can hide behind fake identity," he said. "Look at the Trump and Modi idea, it is basically playing with emotions... It does not depend on facts. Facts don't matter," Pitroda said.

"So when we prepared the manifesto, we said how can we take this message on social media. How do we convince people that these are the real issues...Real issue is probably not what happened at the border, real issue today is jobs, economy, what do we do about farming, what do we do to increase productivity and what do we do to increase farmers' income," he said. 

Pitroda, who is credited with being the architect of the telecom revolution under Rajiv Gandhi, was part of the 19-member Manifesto Committee set up by the Congress to come out with the party's manifesto released last week.

He has worked on the Knowledge Commission and also founded the National Innovation Council later during the Congress-led UPA rule.