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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

BJP lifts three ideas that worked for AAP

Harinder Baweja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 16, 2014
First Published: 23:50 IST(16/3/2014) | Last Updated: 08:33 IST(17/3/2014)

It is an admission the BJP makes only in private. Several senior leaders conceded, in extended conversations with HT, that there are at least three leaves they have taken out of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) book.

In public, managers of Mission 272, entrusted with crafting Narendra Modi’s strategy for the big battle, dismiss Arvind Kejriwal as an anarchist and the AAP as a party relevant only within the confines of Delhi. But the same managers concede that Kejriwal scored when it came to online donations, online volunteers and outreach to almost every voter in the assembly elections.

One of the first lessons the BJP learnt had to do with outreach.

Within BJP circles, it is called the ‘barsati concept’, wherein AAP volunteers climbed several flights of stairs to personally speak to voters in single-room homes atop terraces.

Borrowing from the ‘barsati concept’, a BJP leader told HT on the condition of anonymity, they had drawn up a list of “media dark” villages, where voters have access to neither television nor newspapers. “We have formed 600 teams that will travel to these villages and reach out to people and give them Modi’s message,” the leader said. “Our feedback in Delhi was that those living in barsatis were pleasantly surprised and impressed that for the first time, a political party had taken the trouble of contacting them.”

Piyush Goyal, national treasurer and convenor, information and communication campaign committee, confirmed that volunteer groups are going from village to village, attempting to spread the BJP’s message of change.

Securing online donations was the second strategy the BJP borrowed. “The online banking culture is growing and we didn’t wake up to it as fast as AAP did,” another senior leader said.

He said they adopted it for two reasons: one, because those who contribute might also vote and therefore they strategised on the “ek note, kamal pe vote” campaign. But unlike AAP, the BJP is not willing to reveal the names of donors or the amount collected through the campaign.

While the party has always relied on its network of “friends of BJP”, many of whom take long leave and come to India to help out with the elections, for 2014, the party has also started a network of domestic volunteers — quite like what AAP did for the assembly elections in Delhi.

Through its “give us a missed call if you want to volunteer,” the BJP has now analysed call logs to focus on people volunteering from the key states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“We have received close to a million missed calls and have broken the data down constituency-wise.” Volunteers are now being assigned specific tasks in different constituencies. For managers in charge of Modi’s national campaign, the fight is down to each vote, as one leader said, “smartness lies in adopting some of what worked for AAP in Delhi”. 


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