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Booth-level Workers, Reliance on Data: How Rahul Gandhi Plans to Reverse Fortunes in State Polls

Sources in the analytics department confirm that four lakh ‘Shakti’ members are being consulted before the final selection of candidates in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The feedback collected from the booth-level workers is placed before the Congress' Central Election Committee, which then zeroes in on a candidate.

Zeba Warsi | CNN-News18

Updated:October 24, 2018, 9:02 PM IST
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Booth-level Workers, Reliance on Data: How Rahul Gandhi Plans to Reverse Fortunes in State Polls
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: As election season dawns, the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to reverse its political fortunes in the upcoming state polls. And this time, the grand old party has decided to depend on its booth-level workers as well as data to emerge victorious.

Sources in the Congress top brass told CNN News18 that the party is banking on Project Shakti to finalise candidates in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh for the upcoming elections.

Project Shakti is an internal digital platform that uses data with an aim to link each and every party worker across India with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. The All India Congress Committee’s Data Analytics Department had come up with the initiative in February this year after the party realised that its vote share would have increased substantially had it focused on effectively managing polling booths across the country.

Sources in the analytics department confirm that four lakh ‘Shakti’ members are being consulted before the final selection of candidates in these three states. The feedback collected from the booth-level workers is placed before the Congress' Central Election Committee, which then zeroes in on a candidate.

To ensure that the party does not miss out on the ground reality, Gandhi himself has decided to keep a tab on the feedback collected from booth-level workers. The Congress chief has a real-time monitor in his office that gives details of people registered under Project Shakti.

So far, 35,82,595 people have registered in the six states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Speaking about the importance of the initiative, a senior party leader said: “The fight is not between Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The fight will take place on the ground at the booth level and Project Shakti is mobilising our strength.”

According to the records of the department, 4.5 lakh booths have been covered across the country. While 100% booths have been covered in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, the figure is 70% in Madhya Pradesh.

Members of ‘Shakti’ have been classified into six categories — voters, sympathisers, workers, active workers, office bearers and leaders. A section on the initiative called ‘ank’ (numbers) ranks workers according to a point system. The more active members are in carrying out party work, the higher they move on the point scale. This appraisal system not only helps the Congress identify which worker is more active, but also which areas require more focus.

In the run-up to the elections, the booth-level mobilising project is also being used to conduct surveys to identify the essential poll planks and issues plaguing the people. Sources added that the election manifestos would be based on the door-to-door survey being conducted.

A latest Congress survey, for instance, throws up interesting facts about poll-bound states. While the survey suggests that unemployment and anger among the youth are the top issues in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan is seeing an anti-BJP sentiment due to price rise. Chhattisgarh, meanwhile, is upset with the SC/ST Act as well as demonetisation.

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