New Delhi: One can often spot an ‘employee of the month’ board at fast food restaurants, but rarely do people think of its benefit. The Congress party recently cashed in on a similar reward system, which it believes helped it form governments in three states.
Ahead of the assembly elections, the party launched ‘Shakti app’ through which it assigned tasks to workers, including door-to-door campaigning, organising protests, meeting and rallies.
“The workers sent us updates through SMS or WhatsApp, following which we compiled a data and accordingly rewarded them with points. The rewards were then broadcast to all members and they got to know the best performer,” said Praveen Chakravarthy, head of party’s analytics division.
The grand old party believes that its internal digital platform has helped develop a sense of responsibility among booth-level workers and has given them an opportunity to directly connect to party president Rahul Gandhi.
Before zeroing in on Bhupesh Baghel, Gandhi had apparently sought feedback from more than three lakh Congress members for the post of chief minister in Chhattisgarh.
“There have been instances of the Congress party president making phone calls to workers for suggestions. Do you see that happening anywhere else?” asked Chakravarthy.
Elaborating on what he calls a ‘simple incentive system’, the former investment banker said, “Workers want recognition. They want to be heard, they want to be included and they want to be rewarded. The platform made sure that the party worker in the remotest of areas knew that it was interested in listening to him or her and wanted their take on things.”
While the party was late to enter the internet forums, it has slowly grown to compete with its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won the 2014 elections with a focus on booth workers.
As a part of its 'Mera Booth, Sabse Majboot' drive, the saffron party had formed a team of 10 to 12 dedicated party workers for every booth covering roughly 1,000 voters. BJP insiders say that party chief Amit Shah often takes feedback from the workers.
Claiming that Shakti app is more ‘worker-friendly’ than its opponent’s application, Chakravarthy said, “The fact that the workers do not necessarily need a smart phone to be on the platform is something that sets Shakti apart from others. There is no download required. This is not named after a leader (reference to NaMo app). It’s about empowering our workers and letting them know that we care about their opinion.”
He further added that the party still needs to expand its reach and will continue to evolve in terms of technology.
“I didn’t think that the app would be this successful. It’s a radically new initiative and I’m also someone who’s not from politics. It would have been unreasonable to think that in six months it would go from zero to 5 million people. I would have been very happy had we gone from 0 to 5 lakh but now I’m at 50 lakhs. So, I’m pleasantly surprised,” Chakravarthy said, adding that Gandhi’s vision and initiative had brought the platform together.