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War room : Madhya Pradesh

Situated in a block of the state BJP headquarters at Shivaji Nagar in Bhopal, the party’s war room is a prohibited zone for outsiders, with private security guards posted at the gate. Despite independent surveys showing the ruling BJP far ahead of the Congress in the upcoming elections, Congress leaders in the state are confident of returning to power.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2013 22:24 IST
HT correspondent
Assembly elections 2013

RULING PARTY: BJP

SUMMARY: Situated in a block of the state BJP headquarters at Shivaji Nagar in Bhopal, the party’s war room is a prohibited zone for outsiders, with private security guards posted at the gate.

KEY STRATEGIST: Anil Madhav Dave (57), an RSS man. The Rajya Sabha member and bachelor holds a commercial pilot’s licence and is a veteran in managing election affairs. In 2003, when the BJP fought the assembly elections under Uma Bharti’s leadership, Dave was part of the core team. In 2008, he once again played a key role. The team’s efficacy lies in quickly identifying vulnerabilities in constituencies, sounding an alert to state BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Chouhan not only effects changes in his public speeches accordingly in those constituencies, but leaders of that particular area are also involved in the damage-control exercise.

APPROACH: The war room is involved in preparing slogans for election campaigns; it managed the CM’s Jan Ashirvad Yatra. It looks for potent issues to raise during campaigns; deliberates on the weak areas of the opposition as well as its own; looks into social, caste and political equations in each seat, giving feedback to star campaigners about the specific needs of specific areas. It also uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to counter the Congress’ charges and highlight the Congress’ own follies.

Opposition:CONGRESS

SUMMARY: Despite independent surveys showing the ruling BJP far ahead of the Congress in the upcoming elections, Congress leaders in the state are confident of returning to power.

KEY STRATEGIST: AICC general secretary in charge of party affairs, Mohan Prakash, 63. Prakash has changed a lot of things in the state Cong. He insisted that top Cong leaders from the state addressed all major party rallies together. He convinced Jyotiraditya Scindia to take up the assignment of campaign committee chief in which his predecessor B K Hariprasad had failed. Prakash’s supposed proximity to Rahul Gandhi also gives him an edge. He was media in charge for Haryana & Jharkhand during the 2005 assembly polls, AICC spokesperson in 2008 and media in-charge for Rajasthan during Lok Sabha elections.

APPROACH: His approach towards ticket distribution and electioneering is simple. Not allow Digvijaya Singh to take centrestage and give the BJP an easy target for attack. Singh may feel his decade-long rule was better than that of Shivraj’s but voters are unconvinced and the Congress knows it. It is Prakash’s task to ensure implementation of Rahul Gandhi’s desire for grassroots candidates to get priority in ticket distribution. Digvijaya is feeling marginalised because Prakash is giving greater weight to Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath.