New Delhi, August 20: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in the process of starting a ‘war room’ in each state to prepare for the 2019 general elections, and most of these became functional by August 15, according to three party leaders familiar with the matter.
Named ‘state contact centres’, in each state Capital in the country, they will feed region-specific data to the central war room that has come up at the BJP’s former headquarters on 11, Ashoka Road in Lutyens’ Delhi.
“The war rooms in each state will be of different scale,” said one of the BJP leaders cited above who asked not to be named.
He added that the layout and requirement of these war rooms finalised by the BJP leadership lists certain specifics – one calling agent for every 500 ‘shakti kendra’ (cluster of 2-3 booths) chiefs; three data-entry operators and one supervisor each; a workstation measuring 3×3-feet for every staff member; hardware such as laptops, colour printer, server room, and an Internet lease line of 10mbps speed; a meeting-cum-training room; and a small cabin. The access to these war rooms will be controlled by a biometrics attendance system.
The leader said that the state war rooms will create a database of voters and share specially designed campaign material and the tour dates of senior leaders with them through email and social media. “The idea behind a war room is threefold – decentralise ‘war room’ activities, reflect local flavour in the campaign, and keep track of each polling booth,” the BJP leader said.
The chief minister of one of the BJP-ruled states said on condition of anonymity that the instruction was to make the war rooms functional by August 15. “It will grow in size closer to the election,” the CM said.
A third BJP leader said that, apart from the Lok Sabha elections, these facilities will be used for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh later this year.
Over 550 million people voted across 930,000 polling stations in 2014 and more than 1.1 million took part in elections through postal ballots. The BJP secured a majority by winning a total of 172 million votes, while the Congress’s tally was 107 million votes.
BJP’s social media campaign had been credited for bolstering the 2014 campaign and giving the party a boost.
War rooms are not new to the BJP. Union minister Ananth Kumar’s bungalow in Tughlak Crescent was the BJP’s war room during LK Advani’s prime ministerial bid in 2009. A similar facility was set up at Union minister Shripad Yesso Naik’s Lodhi Estate bungalow to carry out Narendra Modi’s hugely successful prime ministerial campaign in 2014.
“The central war room has already started working with about 300 persons, who are working on a 360-degree campaign for the next election,” the first BJP leader said.
Sidharth Mishra, professor at the Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies “BJP is a cadre based party since the Jan Sangh days. The volume of its operations have increased many fold as the party grew in size and expanded geographically. It has come so far because of a cadre based electoral strategy. It wants to grow further through a similar strategy.”