In the 2009 elections, when the results finally established that the BJP would sit in the opposition, a few people began to plan for 2014.
In some ways, 2009 was the start of the massive campaign that would begin on virtual platforms and culminate in the on-ground campaigns of 2014.
Between 2009 and 2010, a core group of people, previously disconnected, began to meet up at informal gatherings. Soon, power point presentations began to give shape to a nascent idea, according to multiple sources that HT spoke to.
“There was a big internet Town Hall-like meeting in 2010, where people who felt that we needed to do something came together,” said Shashi Shekhar, currently chief digital officer at Niti Digital that is responsible for the India272+ Volunteer Portal for the BJP.
“We looked at a number of issues in that debate, which eventually shaped the emergence of a digital ecosystem that shaped the 2014 campaign,” he added.
Another BJP insider told HT: “We termed ‘silent majority’ the voters who always voted on caste or community considerations.
The minority vote had the potential to swing elections in some key states. We planned to nullify this by consolidating the majority vote.”
Read: Takeaways from Narendra Modi's success story: ignore the critics
Key to this effort was the creation of alternative platforms to maximise their outreach. “Since 2004, we were convinced that the mainstream media was hostile to us,” another BJP leader said. Professionals from various sectors, who had gravitated towards the BJP, began to make presentations on how to create an alternative medium since October 2010.
In 2014, the humble beginnings began to show impressive results. On Twitter, Modi had 3.4 million followers. Between January and May this year, the BJP’s official handle saw a massive 70% rise in followers.
Read: Upbeat mood in BJP headquarters ahead of counting
Eventually, Modi would see 11.1 million mentions, making up a robust 20% of all elections-related tweets in the poll season. This was a clear indication that the virtual and real world campaigns had come together like never before.