Corporate and business honchos are rooting for friends like the father of low cost airlines, Air Deccan founder Captain Gopinath (57), who have jumped into the fray. Tech-savvy Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is quite a show-stealer as far as the youth and urban voters are concerned.
Sensing that it may lose its traditional urban supporters, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is roping in well-heeled professionals receptive towards soft Hindutva to spread the word.
This voter group, generally upper caste, pro-economic reforms and technology-savvy, backs the BJP but does not want to join the party. Piyush Goel, in his early forties, launched the Friends of BJP forum in Mumbai two months ago. BJP general secretary leader Arun Jaitley (56) has been addressing their meetings in Delhi and elsewhere. The members connect with like-minded people through e-groups, SMS and word-of-mouth.
The “Thinking Class” forum, as they describe it on their website (http://friendsofbjp.org), is also involved in setting the agenda for governance. Their “urban manifesto” asks the state to leave alone the economy and not to regulate, despite the changed mood due to the global economic crisis. Security is a major concern and the impact of the 26/11 terror strikes is strongly visible.
Ironically, it calls for pushing private sector education because under government control only the “extremely wealthy can afford decent schooling.” In fact, government institutions offer subsidized education to all.
Informal drawing room meetings and discussions over drinks are also a part of promotion strategy. And soft Hindutva works here too.
The group called for drawing room meetings of 11,000 professionals in 11 cities on April 11. Vani Tripathi (29), a member of the forum’s think tank, said the choice of auspicious 11 was because it’s “Lord Shiva’s number. But we also wanted people to meet just before the polls.”
However, BJP newcomer and Lead India winner R.K. Mishra’s (44) suggestion of chintan baithaks, a term coined by the RSS for its meetings, over drinks may not go down too well with the saffron family purists.