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
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.”