‘Amar Priyo Bhai or Bonera. Subho Nabarasha. Apnara sobai kemon achen?’
In the coming days, millions of Bengali voters will hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishing them a Happy Bengali New Year over the phone. If they keep their ear to the receiver long enough, they will receive further calls that dwell on issues such as the Saradha scam, the Narada sting and the Vivekananda Road flyover collapse – followed by an impassioned appeal to vote for the BJP’s cause of development.
After radio, mobile phones may well turn out to be the BJP’s best friend in the Bengal assembly elections.
The Bengali New Year started on April 14, and the saffron party wants to utilise it to the hilt in the ongoing polls. The party has drawn up a database of 4.5 crore voters in the state – out of the total 6.5 crore – and claims to have already called around 2 crore of them.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reaching out to each voter personally. Calls are going out to the people, and Modi’s message is being communicated in Bengali and Hindi in his own voice. What better way can be there to connect with the people of Bengal and push for the BJP’s development agenda?” said Neeraj Gaur, head of the BJP’s IT department in Haryana.
Gaur, who is handling the party’s IT and social media communications campaign in the Bengal assembly polls, had earlier helped steer it to victory in Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana.
The party has set up a media and communication unit in Kolkata, and established branches across every district of West Bengal. It has also established a 30-seater call centre in the heart of the state capital.
“We make around three to four lakh calls at one go to people from various assembly constituencies, with more than one call reaching individual voters. Apart from this, we are also campaigning on the social media like never before. We have a dedicated team in place to handle the situation,” said Gaur.
Each phone call runs for around 30 seconds, targeting every section of the society – from students and women to senior citizens. A mechanism has been put in place to track the length of the initial phone call and gauge the listener’s response.
“We get feedback on how long the voter listened to the call. If the person stays on the call for more than 26 seconds, we advance to the next step in the campaign and call him/her more frequently. The first call by Modiji is nothing more than a greeting. But, from the next call onwards, he starts speaking on issues like unemployment, the law-and-order situation and corruption. Lastly, he appeals for a vote on the development agenda,” said a senior BJP leader.