Captain’s Early Plunge to Woo Youth on PK Recipe
Congress to hold sessions with students, staff to make them Singh’s ‘college captains’ & ‘city captains
New Delhi: Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh’s penchant for stepping into electoral field in the slog overs is well-known. However, this time he his giving up his traditional style to meet the new challenges in Punjab politics. Congress’ chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 assembly elections has hit the streets nine months in advance and is also making a wellchoreographed bid to woo the state’s young (18-35 age group) voters who make for nearly 60% of the Punjab electorate.
Those privy to the thinking behind the new style say it is par t of a strate g y worked out with a clear eye on the challenges Congress faces in Punjab. Most of the ‘early strike plan’ is based on the campaign recipe prepared by Prashant Kishor and his team, now working as Capt a i n’s c a mpaign strategists.
Sources said the strategy was to take guard against the new challenges Singh-led party was facing in its traditional battle against Akali-BJP front: The determined Aam Aadmi Party’s bid to emerge as a dark horse and the BSP’s decision to contest all seats (which Congress thinks is prompted by Badals as a ploy to divide the key Dalit votes). Amid this multi-cornered contest, the Congress strategists acknowledged the crucial role the youth category could play. This means not only the 74-year-old Singh but also the 47-year-old Arvind Kejriwal and 53-year-old Sukhbir Badal will have to slug it out to impress young voters.
According to sources, this explains why Singh’s campaign team has already hit major towns with a variety of programmes designed to woo the youth. “While, the Punjab Congress has a vibrant students and youth wing, our special campaigns are meant to reach out to tap the politically neutral youth segment,” explained a source.
These plans include holding sessions with college students and young employees in towns and campuses to make them Singh’s ‘college captains’ and ‘city captains’ (brand ambassadors), preaching ‘drug-free and peace-prospering Punjab’. This branding of Captain, similar to Kishor’s earlier branding of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, has led to distribution of badges, hats, T-shirts and stickers featuring logos of Singh. Special Facebook competitions, named ‘8 baj gaye key’ (Is it 8 PM?) and ‘Punjab Da Captain’ (Captain of Punjab) have been unrolled to ‘make the youth play the role of the Captain’ to spell out what they expect the Singh-led Congress to do in gover nment. The winners not only get token gift vouchers but also get to interact with Singh in ‘cof fee with Captain’ programme. The youth-tapping programmes, having kickstarted from Amritsar and Chandigarh last week, is expected to cover four districts per month.