Eye on 2019: How Congress is expanding its booth level workforce using ‘Shakti’

In Politics, The Economics Times by Praveen ChakravartyLeave a Comment


Once Congress has mapped the state with new members across booths, it hopes to tailor-make its election campaign through a more targetted approach.

NEW DELHI: Get 50 members enrolled at the block level and Congress president Rahul Gandhi would personally call you and recognise your contribution to party. As Congress begins its spadework for 2019 parliamentary elections, it has rolled out a new initiative to connect with grassroots workers, train and then encourage them to enrol new members through a creditbased mobile app.
Congress has made a beginning with crucial election-bound Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Telangana. The party has started the process of identifying booth level workers through a technology-driven system – Shakti – where each worker enrols by sending a message to a mobile number and registers. The next phase is to enrol members or identify, what the party calls, Congress-minded families in each booth. With every new registration, a worker gets points or credits. The state unit is tracking the performance daily. The daily top 3 performers are congratulated by the state party president.
Targets have been set – if you enrol 50 new members at the block level, or over 200 new members at district level or 500 members at the state level you get to meet Gandhi in Delhi. Speaking to ET, Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot said, “We have already identified over 2 lakh workers in the state. Now the next phase has started where we have asked our booth workers to register new members. We have introduced a credit system where any worker who links the party to most number of members is rewarded. With this we also get a fair idea of who could be entrusted with party responsibilities in future.”

This personal way of engagement is acting as a morale booster for Congress workers. Congress incharge of Chhattisgarh P L Punia said, “We have already registered 50,000 workers in Chhattisgarh and they are spread across all Assembly segments. It was difficult in Naxal-affected areas but even there we have managed to connect with our workers.”

Once Congress has mapped the state with new members across booths, it hopes to tailor-make its election campaign through a more targetted approach.

Praveen Chakravarty, head of Congress’ data analytics department which is spearheading the programme, said, “The first phase was that of enrolling workers and now we are engaging them. The data we collect would help us in multiple purposes – knowing our workers, identifying issues and even understanding our voter.”

After five states, the party would extend its exercise to Odisha, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. “There are many ways the database can be used – inputs for speeches, knowing the issues on the ground, understanding why votes haven’t translated into seats or simply who has brought how many people to a rally indicating his influence in an area,” said Chakravarty.

Published on 22 June, 2018 in The Economics Times