Over 300 people try to gauge mood for Cong in TN, Kerala
- In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is in alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK).
About 210 people in Kerala and 120 in Tamil Nadu – none of them Congress workers – are travelling around the two states, talking to people at roadside tea stalls, salons, places of worship and bus stands to assess the best picks for the Congress’s candidates for the upcoming assembly polls, according to people aware of the developments.
In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is in alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK). In Puducherry, where the party lost power weeks ago, 70 people have hit the ground with the same goal.
The public survey is being conducted by independent “foot-soldiers” who are not party workers. They go door to door and meet people at various places; the internal opinion poll is logged through mobile phones. The Congress’s Shakti App has contact details of more than 5 million Congress workers in India. The party devised the digital supporter network ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“We are preparing two different types of ground report. The first one is done by consulting the party workers and the second one is feedback from common people. While the internal survey is done right from the bloc level, our interaction with the common people happens everywhere...,” said Praveen Chakravarti, chairman of the Congress’s data analytics department.
This is the first time the Congress, with an ear to the ground, is asking the common people about their preferred Congress candidates for the polls, widening the scope of public consultation. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi earlier started in-house opinion polls or internal surveys to find out which candidate enjoys the support of grassroots-level workers.
For a party that aimed to be a champion of the “aam aadmi” and which accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of favouring a handful of industrialists, the wider engagement with common people also coincides with the internal challenges propelled by a section of the senior leaders questioning the organisation’s style of functioning.
These surveys are being conducted by the party’s data analytics department in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry only — in other words, in those areas where the stakes are very high for the Congress. In poll-bound states of Assam and West Bengal, no such activities at the central level are being conducted, but party leaders said that the local leadership may be taking feedback in their own ways for candidates.
Chakravati feels that these exercises also help the party to reach out to people. “On many occasions, party workers tell us that after spending so many years in the Congress, finally the party is asking our opinion as to who should be our candidate,” he said.