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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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.

CHAL­LENGES

ARINDAM

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