Kejriwal’s Odd-Even Success and the Art of Running a Campaign

Here’s breaking down what has made the odd-even plan a success so far.

3 min read
Arvind Kejriwal’s odd-even plan seems to be success, at least so far. (Photo: Hardeep Singh/<b>The Quint</b>)

A middle class man with a middle class plan, Arvind Kejriwal seems to have managed the impossible. At least so far. He has made Delhi a socially conscious city. Even those of us who have never been Kejriwal fans have had to laud what is, at the very least, a successful campaign for a good cause.

So how has Kejriwal convinced the middle and upper-middle class to compromise on both the comfort and the cool quotient of their gaddis? Well, he ran a campaign that that checked all the right boxes.

How to Get People to Change

Like smokers in denial, we refused to acknowledge that the number of cars on the road could be a significant factor in making Delhi’s air unbreathable. There were protests that there were other ‘real’ causes of pollution and that the odd-even plan was just an attention seeking move that wouldn’t make a significant difference.

The 15-day trial of odd-even plan started on January 1. (Photo: Reuters)
The 15-day trial of odd-even plan started on January 1. (Photo: Reuters)

The pollution problem in Delhi had reached seriously dangerous levels. So, you live in the most polluted city in the world, but it couldn’t be the cars? There was even a petition in High Court to stop the implementation of the odd-even experiment, which was rejected.

But Kejriwal didn’t make us kick the habit cold turkey. For a while, radio stations were plastered with the Delhi CM telling us about all the other measures the government was taking to curb pollution in the city.

His radio announcements not only spoke of the lack of cars on the road, but also mentioned other steps his government was planning to take, including shutting down polluting factories in the city.

However, Kejriwal also used a technique that anti-smoking campaigns have been using for decades. He didn’t talk about the pollution problem as a social evil or even a health hazard for car owners.

He tried to convince car owners to adjust to the new policy by pointing out how pollution in the city was affecting their children.

And while the strategy hasn’t always worked on smokers, it seems to have had some effect on car owners.

Not About Socialism, But a Social Conscience

Arvind Kejriwal didn’t give speeches about the wonders of public transport, or the wasteful and ostentatious attitude that cars represent. He didn’t talk down to people, but tried to take them along.

From the beginning of his political career, Arvind Kejriwal has been milking his ‘middle-class’ street cred. From the uncleji attire, to the muffler and of course his famed WagonR, Kejriwal has a public persona tailored to the middle-class. And he seems to know a little something about his constituency.

He didn’t try to sell them on public transport as an alternative. Anyone who has travelled extensively by bus or metro will tell you, a car is way more comfortable. So what can people do, if they want to help reduce pollution as well as not be too inconvenienced? Carpool! All the comforts of a car ride while following the rules and getting to spend time with neighbours and colleagues. Now that not might be as good as your own car, but it beats travelling standing sandwiched between a sea of people.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal carpooling with Transport Minister Gopal Rai and Health Minister Satyendra Jain. (Photo: PTI)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal carpooling with Transport Minister Gopal Rai and Health Minister Satyendra Jain. (Photo: PTI)

By promoting carpools, Kejriwal asked Delhi’s middle class to sacrifice just enough, but not too much. The people of Delhi, by and large, have followed the new rules up to now. Let’s see if mufflerman’s campaign works for the next 10 days.

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