Varanasi: On 27 February, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his address to the ‘Booth Vijay Sammelan’ of party workers from several districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh in Varanasi, he expressed a small wish. He asked BJP workers to take his “pranam (regards) to every family of Varanasi”, a VIP constituency represented by the PM himself in the Lok Sabha.
Even before PM Modi could land in Delhi from Varanasi, his ‘pranam’ flooded social media platforms, WhatsApp groups and Instagram feeds as his lieutenants uploaded the video clip where the PM makes his wish known.
The idea was to ensure the message reached every nook and corner of his constituency.
This task was made possible by a team of about 100-odd volunteers housed in a three-storey building in Varanasi. Situated in the Gulab Bagh area, the BJP’s digital war room has been busy lately, preparing for PM Modi’s visits, including public rallies and addresses to party workers.
The task at hand for the war room is clear. It is not only supposed to create a buzz but also gather relevant information for the remaining constituencies going to polls on 3 and 7 March in the penultimate and final phases of the 2022 UP assembly elections. The war room connects party workers, officebearers and volunteers.
Speaking to ThePrint, Shashi Kumar, co-convenor of UP BJP’s social media department, said the war room came into existence a month ago and is focused on the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, which includes five assembly seats.
“Our job can be divided into three parts: circulating content for social media especially WhatsApp, monitoring social media and a monitoring cell, which remains in touch with booth-level workers and provides them relevant information and at the same time takes feedback on whether they have received, say, the voter list, campaign material etc,” he said.
‘Crucial link’ between workers and organisation
The war room is a link between the party workers and the party organisation. It will play a crucial role during PM Modi’s proposed visit to Varanasi on 4-5 March, where he is likely to address public rallies.
“The idea is to not only ensure live telecast of PM Modi’s rallies on various social media platforms but at the same time also monitor the content on social media in response to the rally,” said a senior BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named. “All the important and salient points of the rallies will be provided to us and we will further circulate them through our broadcast groups to party workers who will then take it forward by sharing it with voters.”
A party functionary said on condition of anonymity that they have a network of 36,000 WhatsApp groups and are able to reach 20 lakh people at a time through these groups.
Ankit Singh Chandel, state head of BJP’s social media, Uttar Pradesh, said most of the people working at the war room are young volunteers. “Another significant aspect of this war room is to reach out to the beneficiaries of state and Centre schemes and inform them of the measures taken by the government through personal connect, through videos etc,” he said.
On Tuesday, when ThePrint visited the war room, it found the premises buzzing with activity. Union minister and BJP Agra MP S.P. Singh Baghel, who is up against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Karhal, visited the war room and interacted with the volunteers.
A group of youngsters was busy making calls and taking feedback from the workers about every minute detail, including whether they had received campaigning material, voters list, and if they had shared the publicity material on social media too.
One of the many tasks of the war room is to keep a tab on what party workers are discussing on social media and whether there is any resentment among any of them regarding any decision of the party.
“The moment we notice that there is some issue or the other and the party functionary is discussing it on social media, we alert the senior leaders to ensure the issue is resolved. This is not spying on them but to ensure their concerns are addressed,” said a party functionary who didn’t wish to be identified.
The digital war room is especially courting first-time and women voters. “Special content is created for them and is shared with the party workers. At the same time, we also ensure that traditional voters are given voters’ slip in time and that the workers are in touch with them till voting takes place,” another party leader said on condition of anonymity.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)
Source: The Print