New Delhi: The image boys are out. In the Uttar Pradesh poll circus, BJP chief Amit Shah will be the only ringmaster. His organisational skills and strategic acumen will be in direct play against the wily plans and the statistical calculations of Congress party’s vote spinner Prashant Kishore and Samajwadi Party’s image maker, Harvard University professor Steve Jarding.
In a departure from the recent practice of the BJP to bank on professional electoral strategists, Shah is shunning outsourcing key communication challenges. Even the team of Rajat Sethi and Subhrashtha, who have the confidence of party general secretary Ram Madhav, and is credited to have delivered Assam to the saffron kitty, the BJP chief has opted to taken upon himself the task of amassing favourable public perception for his organization in the run up to the UP Assembly polls, which is being seen as the semi-final ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“We have not outsourced poll communication plans to any professional. They are being crafted by Amit Shah and a core team of politicians from the Central and state unit of the party. The UP election verdict will finally demolish the myth that a non-political professional election strategist can influence the poll outcome,” said a close aide of the BJP chief.
The BJP has reportedly hired only IT professionals who are in charge of Facebook campaign “Uttar dega Uttar Pradesh (UP will give answers), who are working on the directions of the BJP leaders. “All communication material is being prepared by the core team at party headquarters in Delhi. The job of the IT professionals is to share the feedback on Facebook with the leaders,” added the BJP functionary.
Amit Shah is banking on over one lakh booth level executive committees set up in Uttar Pradesh over two years. They have been imparted rigorous training by experienced party leaders in methods of propaganda and electioneering.
Shah’s approach is in sharp contrast to what Prashant Kishore is doing for the Congress. “Kishore is executing a 360 degree campaign in which, his team strategises, undertakes grass-root research, passes on instructions to party functionaries to take specific political action, handles social media and directs extensive outdoor campaigning. There is no scope for any state Congress leader to take any independent decision unless Kishore vets it,” said a close aide of the propaganda professional on phone from Lucknow. Professor Jarding has been roped in by UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to focus on image building and mobilizing voters in the rural areas for the faction of SP, led by the chief minister.