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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress modifies its strategy on Nyay

The party has started sending personalised letters from Congress president Rahul Gandhi to 12 million poor households which will vote in the third phase of the ongoing national election on April 23, a strategist for the Congress said.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 18, 2019 08:46 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
As Nyay (named after its Hindi acronym) gains popularity among constituents, the party is hoping to play on the word (it means justice in Hindi) and use it in the context of jobs, GST, empowerment of women, and the agrarian crisis to underline the party’s intent to fix problems.
As Nyay (named after its Hindi acronym) gains popularity among constituents, the party is hoping to play on the word (it means justice in Hindi) and use it in the context of jobs, GST, empowerment of women, and the agrarian crisis to underline the party’s intent to fix problems. (AFP)
         

The Congress party has tweaked its strategy in the middle of the ongoing national election to launch an unprecedented phase wise outreach targeted at possible beneficiaries of its much-touted Nyay scheme (Nyuntam Aay Yojana), a move prompted by the daily monitoring of the effectiveness of its campaign, and the need to communicate details of a programme the party thinks is a game changer.

The party has started sending personalised letters from Congress president Rahul Gandhi to 12 million poor households which will vote in the third phase of the ongoing national election on April 23, a strategist for the Congress said. It will periodically release similar letters or messages to voters of the remaining four phases. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is also expected to send such personalised messages directly to voters in the next few days, this person added requesting anonymity.

As Nyay (named after its Hindi acronym) gains popularity among constituents, the party is hoping to play on the word (it means justice in Hindi) and use it in the context of jobs, GST, empowerment of women, and the agrarian crisis to underline the party’s intent to fix problems. The Congress’s campaign committee met here on Wednesday to chalk out how the term Nyay should be used to address raging issues across sectors. Party leaders argued that Nyay is a larger concept and the scheme of minimum guaranteed income is only a part of it. “Nyay means justice. So, we want Nyay for GST, for women, in the job sector and for other issues as well,” added the strategist.

The new approach is starkly different from the traditional campaign of big rallies or road shows aimed at the masses, which will continue.

The plan kicked in on Wednesday morning, with 1.9 million people being sent the link of the letter over text messages. In The first 45 minutes after the message was sent, the strategist said, 440,000 actually downloaded the letter. In the one-page letter, addressed to individual recipients, Gandhi explains the concept of Nyay and narrates how the current government has squandered its chances to improve the lives of common people.

Gandhi writes: “The poor, workers, farmers, small traders, middle class and businessmen contribute to make India. But in the last five years, voices of all these people were throttled and the Modi government ran only for 15-20 industrialists. The policies of the government doesn’t take into account the hard work of the farmers, work for the young people, income for the poor, labourers’ wages and the lives of small traders. Instead of listening to these people, decisions such as the note ban and the Gabbar Singh Tax (a reference to GST) have hit their livelihoods hard.”

The letter mentions the Nyay word seven times and ends with the slogan, “Garibi par waar, bahattar hazar” (Attack on poverty; 72000) referring to the Rs 72,000 a year promised to poor families in the Nyay scheme.

The party has used SECC data, housing scheme data and other government studies to draw up the list of poor Indians in 5.4 lakh villages. They have been also mapped in the Congress’ s internal network, Shakti, against their respective constituencies and booths. “This makes the work of sending these messages relatively easy,” said Praveen Chakravarthy, the head of the party’s data analytics cell.

In the coming phases, Priyanka Gandhi is likely to send out personal messages to targeted voters. Discussions are still on if that will be a video clip or an audio message or another letter. The party has also prepared a video to explain Nyay after Chakravarthy was grilled by many local women on the scheme at a rally in Maharashtra’s Ramtek.

“I went to Ramtek two days before the first phase campaign ended... a lot of women came to me to ask questions. We decided to make a video...,” he said .

“Targeted campaign, like targeted subsidies, can be an innovative idea. But while the Congress wants to focus on Nyay, they must also respond to the issues raised by the BJP, their principal opponent in the run up to the polls,” said former parliamentary affairs secretary, Afzal Amanullah.

First Published: Apr 18, 2019 06:37 IST

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