Saturday 24 August 2019, 02:26 AM
'Operation Shakti' in the vanguard of Congress march to LS polls - (Part I)
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 1/21/2019 4:33:06 PM
'Operation Shakti' in the vanguard of Congress march to LS polls - (Part I)

New Delhi: A new age which requires new tools. The realities that the digital and social embrace has brought about makes one's position tenuous if you don't engage with it. The new rules of engagement are rigorous and involve technological interface.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi realised this as soon as he took over. The genius of Amit Shah's style of soldiering and combat is to get down and dirty by engaging directly with party workers or karyakartas, map and track the voters and essentially get deep down into the concentric circle so that you know the voters and workers backwards and forwards.

Furthermore, the granularity involves bringing the voter to the polling booth. And this two-fold activity has been mastered with great acumen by Shah and his workers, who have used Prime Minister Narendra Modi's larger-than-life persona of a Hindu Hridya Samrat with great precision and potency.In a copycat model, the Congress went deeper and deeper into the giant concentric circle called India to connect with the voters. A booth programme was launched with the focus on voters and workers to ensure optimisation of resources.

The Congress understands that BJP President Amit Shah is a pioneer in this format. He is considered a disruptor in this art of warfare for he has taken the Big Leader and his Big Messaging to new levels. The recent state elections thus was the crucible of combat where the Congress tested its new modules and models and came out unscathed in at least three Hindu heartland states.

The new model, christened Operation Shakti, is now working seamlessly across the land. For Amit Shah and former investment banker Praveen Chakravarthy, who handles the data analytics for the Congress party, the battle will now be fought across the 200,000 polling booths in a scientific data-heavy hitting manner.

For the most part, elections are going local and what the TV did historically, the social media did in 2014 and beyond. Considered repugnant by the old guard in the Congress till recently, the proof of concept through the use of digital embrace and data analytics in the three northern and middle Indian states has changed the mindsets in 24 Akbar Road.

An example of this granularity is say a visit live through the Congress War Room to Bher village in Rajasthan where there are only 2,146 voters, a mere two booths, 321 households with nine Rams, three Chandras and one Mohd. Their family incomes, number of members, mobile numbers etc were quickly collated and then disseminated. Similarly, in Nagaur, again in Rajasthan, similar mapping was done for the assembly polls.

It was found that there are 26 per cent Muslims, 19 per cent Jats, 17 per cent SC, 10 per cent Brahmins and 10 per cent Mahajans. Names and numbers were collated and thrown into the big capsule, phone calls were made directly to many by Rahul Gandhi himself, a connection was attempted to be established. Caste calculus and its formal decoding began. After an ignominious obliteration in poll after poll since the 2014 hustings, 'Operation Shakti' was launched eight months ago.

Former Goldman Sachs Wall Street banker Praveen Chakravarty, who worked with Nandan Nilekani in the past in UIADI and then in Dr Manmohan Singh's PMO, emerged as the new centrifuge in Gandhi's strategic plan. A data scientist, Wharton-educated 'Chucky', as he is known, understood that old-style electioneering was dead.

As soon as Rahul Gandhi was appointed Congress President in November 2017, he roped in Chucky and by the time the Congress Plenary took place in March the following year, Chucky was on the Economic Resolution Drafting Committee.Immediately thereafter, Operation Shakti was launched as a pilot project to connect with workers and voters and invigorate and educate them on the bipolarity of politics and the need for a refurbished Congress which had cut the umbilical cord with its own tendentious and dark past.

The people were reminded that the Congress was the Big Tent, an amorphous body which could absorb one and all, and could be viewed as an all inclusive organisation. Now designated Chairman of the Data Analytics Department, Chucky is the instrumentality that Rahul Gandhi is using as a battering ram to unobtrusively enter people's homes.

(More to come on Monday)


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