From converting the UPA’s “chaiwallah” taunt into a prominent election tool in the form of “Chai pe Charcha” to organising the 3D hologram rallies for Narendra Modi, Citizens for Accountable Governance was at the heart of BJP’s ascent to power last year.
Now, this group of IIT and IIM graduates, under the leadership of Prashant Kishore, has taken up the mantle for Modi’s arch-rival Nitish Kumar for the Bihar Assembly elections.
The first signs of their presence behind the scenes is already visible, in the form of a giant poster of Nitish Kumar at the busy Income Tax roundabout in Patna.
This time though, the team has rebranded itself and split into two.
Citizens Alliance, with close to 35 members, is directly working with the Bihar government to aggressively promote its achievements. Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), with 27 members, is working with the JD(U) – it will conduct data analytics and work the social media for Nitish, an exercise that paid rich dividends during the Modi campaign.
The biggest segment of this campaign will be the “Jan Bhagidari” drive, which will be officially unveiled on Tuesday, with the launch of the “Badh Chala Bihar” initiative that aims to reach 40,000 villages and engage four crore people.
Close to 400 trucks equipped with TV sets, music systems, microphones and speakers led by a “grassroots mobiliser”, a representative of the team, will move from village to village and showcase the government’s achievements. This will be followed by a discussion with the villagers including the sarpanch, mukhiya, etc.
There has been a high level of secrecy around the Jan Bhagidari campaign. And most of the campaign team’s members that The Indian Express spoke to maintained that they were not in a position to “divulge” too much.
Akshat Mittal, project lead for the government drive, said that “Jan Bhagidari was the largest campaign of its kind in the world”.
But the plans don’t end there. Some of the events lined up include:
* “Breakfast with CM”, where Nitish is expected to hold four meetings with leading editors and journalists.
* Bihar Lecture Series and Bihar Development Dialogue, to be held in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai, will focus on talks by experts, entrepreneurs and government officials on how to develop the state in 10 years.
* Jigyasa, on the lines of Modi’s “Manthan” campaign, will seek answers from students on different issues like poverty, and lack of education.
* Gaurav Goshti, when the government will celebrate the achievements of all 38 districts, along with the felicitation of district-level achievers.
While most of the promotional work for Nitish is being handled by Citizens Alliance, IPAC is busy with the background work, having already begun “booth mapping”.
While this support group conducted the analysis for 6 lakh booths in 2014, they will go into specifics this time: speech inputs to JD(U) candidates, “influencer mapping” that will tell leaders which groups of voters to meet and interact with, and calendar scheduling on where and when to hold rallies.
Asked about the difference in working with Modi and Nitish, one team member said, “Nitish is more flexible, open to discussion and willing to experiment whereas Modi was firm and very clear about what he wanted.”
As of now, Team Prashant is working from two important addresses in Patna —- 7, Circular Road, where the CM stays, and 7 Strand Road, the residence of JD(U) MP and key Nitish aide R C P Singh.
Prashant Kishore remained unavailable for comment but when contacted, JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar Ansari said, “First, he is from Bihar and understands the state very well. Second, he is a professional campaigner who has woven campaigns around popular themes. Prashant may have realised that he is campaigning for the right person now.”
Courtesy: The Indian Express