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Inside the war room: How BJP, Congress plan to win Rajasthan

Rashpal Singh and Sachin Saini, Hindustan Times   October 20, 2013
First Published: 21:03 IST(20/10/2013) | Last Updated: 22:35 IST(25/10/2013)

Elections are a mammoth exercise involving political leaders and their core team. A snap-shot of war-rooms in Rajasthan which drive that effort.

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Ruling party: Congress

Summary: The state Congress headquarters on Sansar Chand road, Jaipur, has been made election-ready with a fresh coat of paint. The office itself has been renovated and now has a hi-tech communication centre.

Key strategists: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, 63 (left), and state party chief Dr Chandrabhan, 61 (right). Once a poll manager for Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi, Gehlot is an old hand at poll campaigns. He and Chandrabhan are finalising the shortlist of probable candidates and will next set to work on individual poll campaigns.

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Approach: Unlike the previous polls, the Congress is using every possible medium to spread the party’s achievements. The new communication centre, set up to keep tabs on social media, will monitor news and do research to provide a running analysis and keep candidates clued in about the dos and don’ts.

The state party unit is also organising a media management workshop for their spokesperson. Apart from taking out a Congress Sandesh Yatra across the state, the party for the first time has also constituted committees at Panchayat, Ward and Nagar levels to ensure maximum voter participation and creating awareness about the government’s work.
      

Opposition: Bharatiya Janata Party

Summary: The BJP lost the 2008 assembly polls due to faulty ticket distribution and factionalism. This time, the party leadership is taking precautionary measures to contain internal differences.

The party headquarters on Sardar Patel Marg is abuzz with activity as a large number of ticket aspirants queue up to meet the leaders. Equally active is the residence of party president Vasundhara Raje, at 13 Civil Lines, Jaipur.

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Key strategists: State party president and former CM Vasundhara Raje, 60, leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, 70 and national secretary Bhupendra Yadav, 42. Raje took the party high command by surprise when she threatened to resign due to a power struggle with Kataria.

After being declared the party’s CM candidate, she took along Kataria, who is now head of the elections manifesto committee. Replacing her core team of 2008 by bringing in new players such as Yadav, who managed her Suraaj Sankalp yatra.

Approach: The party leadership has conducted various surveys to decide on ticket distribution. It is expecting RSS backing, missing in the 2008 polls.                      

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