Punjab 2017

As AAP and Congress crunch data, it’s war minus the shooting

Leading an army: Captain Amarinder Singh at a meeting in Bathinda on Monday. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is in command of his campaign.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The two big electoral triumphs of 2015 were the victories of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi and the Janata Dal(U)-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress lmahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar. Now, in Punjab, the campaign teams that powered their respective war rooms are facing off again in a fight for every vote.

At a two-storey, whitewashed building in one of the leafy sectors of Chandigarh, three or four AAP volunteers are hunched over a computer, waiting for the “daily masala” or data with regard to the intensive door-to-door campaign being undertaken by their team. Most of these volunteers had been with the party in the campaign for the Delhi elections and the seamlessness of the operation is quite evident.

“We have thousands of local volunteers, of course, but also from the Delhi campaign. You can call this the AAP model of campaigning,” said Deepak Bajpai, party spokesperson. “We aim to cover every household in the State twice over, and target reaching out to at least 4.5 lakh people every day.”

The war room, or office, has a communal kitchen, and two terraces covered by shamianas to create more “office space”. The house has been lent to the campaign by an AAP supporter in Canada.

Among those who have returned to the team from the Delhi campaign are Sarika, an ENT specialist who quit her job at a Delhi hospital five months ago to help with the campaign. “This is my fourth election with the AAP. Last time round, part of the campaign office ran from my clinic in Gurgaon,” she said as she assigned areas for the newly arrived batch of NRI volunteers from Canada.

Man-to-man marking

AAP leaders say that come polling day, more than one lakh volunteers will be manning the polling booths. “Our model is man-to-man marking, intensive house-to-house outreach, and leaving the rallies, addressed by Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann or Sanjay Singh to another team,” said a volunteer.

Across town from this modest building, in Mohali’s industrial township is the Congress’s war room. A large open office space, with Captain Amarinder Singh’s various quotes and images forming the main theme of the décor. Election strategist Prashant Kishor had first been signed up by Mr. Singh, before being handed over for campaigns in other States by the Congress leadership.

In a corner cabin is Subhash, a data cruncher, who looks at polling data for each of the 117 seats. “He is our most popular guy in the morning when people assigned specific seats need to get their data sets to work on,” says Payal Kamat, a senior member of the team who had been involved in the Bihar campaign. The team has been not just doing surveys but also shaping specifics such as the Coffee with Captain campaign or the Halke Vich Captain outreach.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 9:33:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-2017/As-AAP-and-Congress-crunch-data-it%E2%80%99s-war-minus-the-shooting/article17083341.ece

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