Congress needs to start early for polls, do extra hard work: Campaign strategist on lessons from K'taka

05:47 PM May 15, 2023 | PTI |

New Delhi: The ”biggest takeaway” for the Congress from its Karnataka win is that it needs to always start early for any polls and put in extra hard work, political campaign strategist Naresh Arora said on Monday as he credited the party’s ‘guarantee’ pitch for the electoral triumph.


Arora, who worked closely with Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar and also conceptualised several of the party’s campaigns in the run up to the May 10 assembly polls, said he was sure that a decision on the chief ministership of the state will be arrived at in consultation with Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.

”I am not a stakeholder in this process. I know that the Congress has gone through its tried and tested formula of one-line resolution and talking to the MLAs. I am pretty sure that the decision will be arrived at in consultation with both the senior leaders,” Arora, who heads DesignBoxed, told PTI.

The Congress’ victory would definitely ”give a shot in the arm” to the Opposition and given the message that battles can be won head on with the BJP, Arora said.

”Generally the impression has been that when there is a direct contest with the BJP, it is the BJP that takes over. In Karnataka, it was a high octane campaign, there was an incumbent BJP government, a non-BJP party has won. I am pretty sure this will give a lot of confidence to the Congress and other Opposition parties,” he told PTI.


In the May 10 assembly elections, the Congress won 135 of the 224 seats, while the BJP and the former prime minister H D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) secured 66 and 19 seats, respectively.

Asked about the biggest takeaway from the polls for the Congress, Arora said they always need to start well before time.

”Here the campaign was started two-and-a-half years before elections… the lesson is that one needs to be amongst the people 24X7 for 365 days. It cannot be that two months prior to the election, you go and think that people will be acknowledging you, it does not happen like that,” he said.

”Especially a party like the Congress which has been on the back foot, needs to do extra hard work which I think was done in Karnataka, which is the biggest take away,” said Arora who has run other campaigns for the Congress in the past.

Hailing the Congress’ guarantee pitch, the campaign strategist said that in Assam, where the party had promised guarantees, there was less time and therefore, it could not percolate to the people.

”It takes time for people to understand what is being told…Guarantee means going beyond commitment. The AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) took it to Punjab and used it successfully, now it worked in Karnataka,” he said.

The Congress had pitched five guarantees to be implemented as soon as it formed the government in Karnataka.

These were 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to woman heads of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of BPL households (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youths and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).

Arora, who is said to be behind the campaign video that saw Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar having a candid conversation during canvassing, said the idea behind it was to show people what two senior leaders talk when they are together.

”Contrary to the perception that they are fighting and throwing punches at each other, they discussed about the party, about each other, discussed about people. Yes, there could be internal competition, but that does not mean they are fighting with each other,” he said.

Hailing the leadership of Shivakumar, whose campaign strategy he handled, Arora said he is a very committed 24X7 politician and has vast experience.

”He was picked by Rajiv Gandhi, was made minister at the age of 32. Since then, he has never lost an election. Even now, he won by the highest margin, with forfeiture of deposits of all others in the contest. He has the qualities, he has the vision, he deserves to be CM ,” Arora said.

Arora’s DesignBoxed is also involved with the Congress’ campaign in Rajasthan and he is confident that the state which has a tradition of changing governments every five years, may not do so this time.

”There is a very strong chance of the revolving door policy to stop because the government, the CM (Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot) there are quite popular, the schemes implemented by the government are resonating on the ground. The Congress has very bright chances there,” he said.

Asked about the Gehlot-Sachin Pilot rift, Arora said, ”Certain things are for media narratives, I see that on the ground the CM’s schemes are very popular and they would be enough to take care of other factors around.”


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