In essence, the theory suggests that a person will decide to act in a way that will lead to the fulfilment of what he expects to happen.
So, Modi knows that if electors can be convinced to believe that he will win in 2014, they will actually vote for him. Thus, his whole effort now is to convince theelector that he alone will be the victor.
Though given to talking big for a long time – lately earning him the epithet of feku – this is the real reason for Modi for projecting himself as a Rambo who rescued 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in a day.
The logic works like this: if a particular elector believes that electors in general are convinced that Modi is a Rambo, he will expect them to vote for the Gujarat chief minister and make him the winner.
This, in turn, will induce this particular voter to be in tune with the general mood and plump for Modi (unless he has specific reservations).
Expand this particular voter to the universe of all voters and it is easy to figure out how a general expectation that Modi will win can lead to his actual victory.
Of course, the reverse is also true. A general belief that he cannot win will induce non-committed voters to cast their franchise for someone else. Modi is also using the expectation theory when he warns CBI officers that the government could change in the near future. Read this as, proceed gingerly in the Ishrat Jahan case and do not cross me because tomorrow I willbe your boss.
As a matter of strategy, Modi is also using the theory of expectations along with the public mood in the country that is for “change”. The mood for change first became clear from the massive support garnered by Anna Hazare in 2010-11. Hazare’s enormous popularity was because people saw him as the change agent. But this was short-lived because people soon realised that Hazare could not deliver on the change that they wanted. Actually, the people also do not know the “change” that they seek.
Modi is cognisant of this and is offering himself as the change agent.
That such a revolution cannot take place in India through our defective electoral system – where loads of moolah is needed – may be known to analysts but not to the common man.
Thus, Modi’s men will project him as clear-as-a-crystal leader who delivers on his promises without fear and prejudice. At the same time, they will de-emphasise some of the attributes that have stuck to Modi.
The most obvious of them is his being anti-minority. To counter this, BJP proposes to produce a vision document for minorities.
Slowly, Modi is also being seen as a handmaiden of big business. As evidence of this, last week, a huge crowd of farmers rode into Ahmedabad in trucks, tractors and trailers protesting the Modi government move to forcibly acquire 50,887 hectares of farm land for a special investment region. Expect Modi nowto become pro-farmer.
Modi’s biggest apprehension, however, is that the 2014 elections becoming a referendum on him. This is in spite of Modi revelling in being perpetually in public gaze and nothing can be a bigger ego-booster than a national election exclusively focused on him. A poll where Modi is pitted against Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh is less difficult for him to manage considering the Congress’ two-term anti-incumbency effect.
But a battle that becomes a choice, want Modi or don’t want him, can become an almost insurmountable obstacle for Modi to cross.
This is because many who prefer Modi to Rahul will pause and evaluate carefully whether they want Modi at all. Many who will give the thumbs down to Rahul will not approve of Modi in isolation because they know he is a feku, projecting a larger-than-life image of himself.
The writer is resident editor, Hyderabad, The Times of India