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Assembly poll hustings: Poll strategists still in vogue

New Delhi: It was not just social engineering on the basis of caste, sub-caste and religion that played a key role in just-concluded assembly polls, but social media engineering and data analysis done by various poll strategists also played their part in a big way.

While the famous political strategist Prashant Kishor had to eat the humble pie in Uttar Pradesh, where he worked for the SP-Congress alliance, he tasted success in Punjab where he advised the winning side.

A number of other poll strategists were also involved with various parties behind the scenes, while thousands of IT geeks worked day and night including for individual candidates and political outfits — creating and driving ‘trends’ on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

They also advised the parties and their candidates on how to reach out to the voters in the offline world, including for the leaders’ outreach programmes through ‘Khat Sabhas’ and over coffee and lassi meet-ups.

Parties like AAP are largely dependent on their own cadres, while BJP is said to have gone for own cadre people as well as other ‘volunteers’.

These strategists are already said to be preparing for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 as well as upcoming state polls.

Kishor, one of the key poll strategists for the Congress in Punjab, congratulated Amarinder Singh for the party’s victory in the state.

He also mentioned that AAP was one the toughest competitors his team has faced.

“Congratulations to @capt_amarinder and the entire Punjab Congress for a stupendous win!”

“To all AAP volunteers and grassroots workers, you were one of the toughest competitors we faced! @ArvindKejriwal @AAPPunjab2017,” said tweets on Kishor’s organisation @IndianPAC, which, however, is not a Twitter-verified handle.

Congress has emerged victorious in the assembly elections after ten years of rule by the SAD-BJP combine.

Avinash Singh, Senior Consultant and Head of Punjab Cell of Oakland Brigs, said their assessment showed multiple gaps left by the political parties in the narrative of Punjab.

“We gave a cumulative strategy, under the central message that Punjab needs a Captain — ‘Punjab Da Captain’,” he said.

Oaklnad Brigs is a political and corporate image strategy firm.

The message ‘Punjab Da Captain’ has put the strengths of Captain Amrinder upfront in the minds of people against the rather fractured messaging of opponents while rest was local maneuverings, Avinash Singh said.