Rahul At Helm, Con­gress Adopts, Gains from Tech

Cur­rently, INCVidya app is be­ing used to select Lok Sabha can­di­dates. 26 names have been fi­nalised in Gu­jarat and work is go­ing on in other states

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Ku­[email protected] times­group.com

New Delhi: OnJan­uary10,Con­gress de­clared that Sheila Dixit would be pres­i­dent of the Delhi unit of the party. Be­fore the an­nounce­ment, the party had sought the opin­ion of 24,000 work­ers from Delhi on who should lead the state unit. In a two-day sur­vey that ended on Jan­uary 8, more than 80% of the re­spon­dents named Dixit as their choice.

The Con­gress is in­creas­ingly us­ing tech­nol­ogy to ob­tain feed­back and sug­ges­tions while tak­ing de­ci­sions. All the re­spon­dents in the Delhi sur­vey had reg­is­tered for the ‘Shakti’ app launched in Fe­bru­ary last year. An­other app, ‘INCVidya,’ keeps records of party work­ers reg­is­tered un­der Shakti and is an in­ter­ac­tive app that is used to get feed­back.

“INCVidya is the one where the ac­tion hap­pens. Shakti is just a plat­form where work­ers are asked to join the party,” said a Con­gress leader. There are 90,000 party work­ers reg­is­tered with the Shakti app in Delhi.

“But we don’t call ev­ery­one,” said a party leader as­so­ci­ated with the process. “We call only the level-C party worker.”

This is not the first time that the party has used INCVidya to get opin­ions and help make de­ci­sions. Re­cently, sim­i­lar polls were con­ducted among work­ers in Mad­hya Pradesh, Ra­jasthan and Ch­hat­tis­garh on who should be the chief min­is­ter. The work­ers were asked to give only one name. The re­sults are kept con­fi­den­tial and shared di­rectly with Con­gress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi.

Cur­rently, a lit­tle over 6.8 mil­lion Con­gress booth-level work­ers are con­nected through the Shakti app across the coun­try.

The worker net­work was used for sur­veys to choose party can­di­dates in the re­cently held assem­bly elec­tions. Gandhi takes feed­back from the sur­veys se­ri­ously. In some cases, he is said to choose can­di­dates sug­gested by the sur­veys, even when they do not have the sup­port of lo­cal lead­ers.

In Lad­nun seat of Ra­jasthan, state Con­gresspres­i­den­tSach­inPilo­tis­said to have sug­gested the name of Ravi Pa­tel, a young party worker, while se­nior leader and cur­rent chief min­is­ter AshokGehlot­put­for­wardthenameof Ja­gan­nath Bu­dok, an­other Con­gress leader. The work­ers chose Mukesh Bhakar, a youth Con­gress leader. De­spite ob­jec­tions from both Pi­lot and Gehlot, the ticket was given to Bhakar, who won the seat by 13,000 votes.

Some­times,Gand­hi­ac­cept­s­theopin­ion of the party lead­ers, ig­nor­ing sur­veys like he did dur­ing Haryana mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions when he went by for­mer chief min­is­ter Bhupin­der Singh Hooda sug­ges­tion con­test­ing as in­de­pen­dents sup­ported by the party.

Cur­rently, INCVidya is be­ing used to find Lok Sabha can­di­dates for the party. The names for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gu­jarat have been fi­nalised and work is go­ing on in other states. A new Con­gress un­der Gandhi is reach­ing out to work­ers di­rectly and that ap­pears to be mak­ing some re­gional satraps and party lead­ers un­com­fort­able.

“Noth­ing can beat the net­work of a re­gional leader and his ex­pe­ri­ence on ground,” said a UP Con­gress leader. “Tech­nol­ogy is help­ful, but I don’t think it can re­place a per­son who has been in so­cial ser­vice for decades.”

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