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Meet IITian Rishi Raj Singh who is rooting for Nitish Kumar in Bihar election, in style

Meet IITian Rishi Raj Singh who is rooting for Nitish Kumar in Bihar election, in style

From Facebook pages to Twitter handles, IPAC created an online version of NItish's ‘Janata Durbar’, where grievances of people were directly communicated to bureaucrats and other officials.

Bhagalpur: He studied at one of most prestigious engineering colleges of the country – Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. After further education, went on to become an investment banker in Mumbai, earning a handsome salary.

But there was something that pulled him more towards the Indian political system than the investments of the ‘Richie Richs’ in the Maximum City. His passion compelled Rishi Raj Singh of Kanpur to give up his comfortable job in Mumbai and become a part of the hurly burly of politics, not as a leader but as a strategist.

Along with some friends of his, Rishi founded a body called Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) in 2013. This is the organisation that worked for the campaign of then prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi. From 3D shows to ‘Chai pe Charcha’, all the campaigns for Modi were organised by CAG.

And rest, as they say, is history. The campaigns were a hit, and Narendra Modi went on to become the Prime Minister of India.

But that was not the end of road for Rishi. He dissolved CAG after the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to IBNLive, Rishi said, “We dissolved it after 2014 elections, as CAG was a sort of experimental body for us. We wanted to explore if this practice works in the Indian scenario, and the results were amazing.”

On why he campaigned for Narendra Modi only, and not any other leader, Rishi had a clear answer, “Modi was the best possible option available in Lok Sabha elections.” But soon after dissolving CAG, Rishi saw his next target in the form of Bihar. “After the completion of Lok Sabha elections, I studied Bihar for a few months and found that a lot can be done in the state.”

He then founded a new body called Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), himself serving as its director. The face chosen by him this time is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “I don’t believe in backing or campaigning for a party. We want to provide a credible face at the helm of governance. We are trying to provide a bridge to the youth to engage with the Indian polity.”

When asked if supporting Modi and then Nitish was a shift in loyalty, Rishi said that it was never about a party, but always about the face that promised good governance, for him. He added that IPAC would have never hesitated in campaigning for a BJP leader had the party put up a face more credible than the Bihar Chief Minister.

The tool that came handy for IPAC in their campaign was social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Rishi and team exploited the digital campaign to connect Nitish Kumar to the common people.

From Facebook pages to Twitter handles, they created an online version of the Chief Minister’s ‘Janata Durbar’, where grievances of people were directly communicated to bureaucrats and other officials. In addition to these, IPAC began, and is still continuing, work on the ground, at the grassroot level.

Several people were engaged from remotest parts of Bihar to connect the Janata Dal United (JDU) leader to people by promoting works done by him. They were also supported by roadside vendors and tea sellers.

IPAC has around 500 volunteers across Bihar currently and there are three nodal teams headquartered at Patna for each constituency.

Rishi doesn’t find the enormous advertisements by rival BJP a threat as he is confident about the modus operandi of his group. “BJP can spend enormously but JDU is a poorly-funded party. We can’t give ads to reach people, so we rely on our foot soldiers.” He adds, “This election will be an eye opener for those who believe ads can ensure victory.”

Talking about the IPAC war-room in Patna, Rishi told IBNLive that people would be “amazed” to see the profiles of people controlling the whole operation. He also introduced IBNLive to his team-mates in Bhagalpur, where he is stationed till the completion of phase 1 of Bihar polls.

Banka constituency is being taken care of by Priyank Khare, an IIT-Kanpur graduate while Rishi is being assisted in Bhagalpur by Diggaj Mogra of Rajasthan Technical University (RTU) and a local associate Ankit.

On Prashant Kishore being a more popular name associated with IPAC, Rishi said, “Prashant sir is our mentor. And the level at which he is engaging for IPAC, the name and credit he gets is completely justified.”

Though IPAC is confident of a good standing in the phase 1 of the Assembly polls, Rishi and his friends are not willing to take any chances. “We will hang our boots only after the counting is over. We’ll monitor each booth on the counting day through our control room in Patna,” he added.