‘Mr Dependable’ Raghu joins mentor Pande to control war room

New Delhi: Rajasthan’s health and public relations minister Dr Raghu Sharma, who is considered a protege of Avinash Pande, has joined his boss in Mumbai on Friday evening to assist him in controling and supervising the Operations of Maharashtra Congress war room and to oversee “THE MAHA POLL” preparations. Dr Sharma, who has been assigned the responsibility of co-incharge of the election (designation for Maha polls) will be staying in Mumbai till the elections are over on October 21.

This “Maha responsibility” based in Mumbai has boosted the morale of a 100 per cent “political mind” Sharma, who was lying a trifle low for the last couple of days and also slightly disturbed following the recent “untimely” informal remark of the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during a function at SMS hospital, Jaipur. In the presence of Health Minister Dr Sharma, CM Gehlot had dropped a bomb by hinting that keeping in mind the good work being done by a senior colleague Shanti Dhariwal in UDH, he was thinking of making him (Dhariwal) the next health minister in the cabinet rejig. Though the remark was made in a jovial mood, it was “noticed” by relevant quarters, including Dr Sharma.

As far as Pande’s Maharashtra responsibilty is concerned, enthused by a thumping victory in the 2018 assembly polls leading to the Congress overthrowing the saffron party in Rajasthan, the grand old party is all set to repeat (with minor changes) its strategy to get more and more voters to its cause in Maharashtra. And in the middle of the entire political blueprint, here is All India Congress Committee general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande, who had led the party’s campaign in Rajasthan. Pande has been tasked with monitoring the ‘war room’ operations in Mumbai where a high-tech team of party activists are “fighting” the digital battle.

Accompanied by his team from Rajasthan, Pande in the war room is catering to all election-related affairs such as social media management, providing legal assistance, and facilitating communication among candidates across the State. It has separate departments for research and data analysis, coordination, social media management, and a legal centre.

The Concept

The war room concept was first launched as a pilot project in Rajasthan by Pande, during assembly elections. While the Congress party has an already established national war room in Delhi, it was perhaps for the first time that the ideation of a state-level war room was spawned. One of the most important aspects of establishing a war room was definitely to reach to voters and also to help, control and counter the anti-Congress propaganda that has been spreading across digital platforms by other parties on social media. The same will also help to receive complaints related to the elections and would be forwarded to the Election Commission. The control room can also be called an IT cell which will ensure direct communication with the candidates.

During the Rajasthan polls, the Cong strategy focussed on sensitising people of the core issues which the then BJP government in the state did not address and combining the same with modern methodology of booth level management and effective use of information technology to establish continuous open communication between the candidates, people and the high command. All these put together, gave Congress the edge and the party finally managed to come to power by dethroning the BJP. It is the core components of this strategy that Pande aims to successfully implement in Maharashtra, albeit with minor changes owing to the varied nature of political challenges in the saffron bastion.

For Maharashtra polls, more than 350 party activists are working day and night under Pande’s mastermind supervision, coordinating the campaign in all constituencies, sensitising the public on issues such as inflation, agrarian crisis and unemployment. Coordination with Election Commission and state Chief Election Commission, management and coordination of VIP and VVIP visits during the campaigns are just some of the works being handled by the war room “soldiers” under “General Pande”.