All major political parties are getting poll-ready by setting up war rooms equipped with high-speed computers, data bank and digitalised monitoring cells.
Major players – BJP, Samajwadi Party and Congress – have already kicked off social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp that played a crucial role in previous elections.
With hoardings going off the roads following the directives of the Election Commission, war rooms are banking on non-traditional ways to attract voters.
These war rooms have techies who track voters and their phone numbers to contact them during elections. Use of GPRS and monitoring via video and audio facility will be an added feature this time around.
Preparation for war rooms started three months ago and these have started functioning even as the parties are yet to announce candidates.
Social media is a major weapon in the battle of ballots. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp played a crucial role in BJP’s victory in 2014 Lok Sabha election, Aam Aadmi Party’s win in Delhi and the success Nitish-Lalu combine in Bihar assembly election.
“War rooms do the home work for parties and candidates, and help in canvassing and connecting with voters. Without home work your class work won’t be good enough,” said Aditi Singh, a Congress leader from Rae Bareli.
While the war rooms of the BJP and SP are ready, the social media centre at Congress’s office is acting as war room for the time being.
Taking a lead over other parties in declaring candidates, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is likely to go for traditional style of canvassing.
The Samajwadi Party has one of the most advanced and widest networks in its election war room. A sophisticated call centre, with respondents conversant in English, Hindi, Urdu and Bhojpuri, high-speed computers and internet are waiting for the party to declare candidates.
The war room at the office of Janeshwar Mishra Trust is designed in collaboration with experts from abroad and manpower has been deployed in such a manner that instant connectivity can be established with the voters. The war room is under direct supervision of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, which is always abuzz with discussions on feedback from constituencies and analysis of data done on a regular basis.
Experts will go through the details of past results, vote percentage and constituency wise campaigning after the party announces its candidates.
Bharatiya Janata Party
BJP has already tried to use technology with ‘Parivartan Yatra’ where it used latest technology and GPRS-enabled vans to enable connectivity with voters. A three-tier monitoring is also active.
Presently, the war room in Hazratganj is ready with booth wise lists of voters – young, old and elderly.
“As soon as candidates are announced, the war room will get active with data base. Telecalling, WhatsApp and messaging will immediately begin at two levels – party and candidate,” said BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
A room at the Congress’s office at Mall Avenue is abuzz with activity. Unlike debates on the ground floor, this room has computers where numbers, names and maps from across 403 assembly constituencies are being screened. The party started its home work with the Kisan Mang Patra where it got phone numbers filled.
The Congress’s social media centre is presently working as election war room and is equipped with phone numbers till booth level. “We have at least 350 numbers from each booth which have been included in WhatsApp groups. The booth-level WhatsApp admin is part of the constituency’s WhatsApp group,” said in-charge of social media cell for Congress Piyush Mishra.