I-PAC took up the mandate of driving Punjab Congress to victory in early 2016. Competing against a euphoric Aam Admi Party which was set to win 100 out of the 117 seats, the odds were stacked against us. With an 11-month campaign designed and sustained around Captain Amarinder Singh, I-PAC drove Congress to its biggest victory ever since independence winning a seat shy of a 2/3rd majority.
To break through the perception of Captain’s inaccessibility and to showcase him as a leader who isn’t shy of answering tough questions, Coffee with Captain was conceived as an interactive session between Captain Amarinder Singh and the people of Punjab.
Over a cup of coffee, Captain Amarinder Singh held a no-holds barred discussion with the people and directly answered questions of the crowd and put forth his ideas for bringing back the heydays of Punjab. What began as a series of CwC events for the youth, saw the campaign expand to special groups like that of Farmers, Teachers, Ex-Servicemen, etc.
The resounding success of the events enabled I-PAC to build an army of 10,000 core volunteers who took it upon themselves to take Captain’s word forward in subsequent initiatives.
Halke Vich Captain was a novel Citizens Engagement Initiative to enable Captain Amarinder Singh establish direct contact with various stakeholders in Punjab – local people, influencers, party workers, and media – and cement his image as the only hope of Punjab in the face of huge anti-incumbency against the ruling government. During the course of this campaign Captain visited 80 out of 117 Halkas (Assembly Constituencies), interacted with locals, took cognizance of their problems and assured them of its time-bound resolution upon forming the government.
A total of 5 lakh people attended these events and 7.5 lakh petitions were received from on-ground activities and through digital medium. An unprecedented rate of female participation was also witnessed during this campaign as out of the 7.5 lakh petitions, 3.8 lakh petitions were filled by women all across Punjab.
An extension of the flagship Congress Campaign for farmers led by AICC President Rahul Gandhi, Captain Amarinder Singh too on his part led the campaign demanding farm waiver in the state. With farmer suicides at an all-time high in Punjab, Captain, once in government, promised to waive off all farm debt, outlaw farm land auctioning & dispossession, and offered timely procurement of grains and subsequent payments. The campaign started with a door-to-door drive where households were targeted with a simple proforma/maangpatra. This Mang Patra was used to capture the details of the household and the quantum of their outstanding debt.A receipt was issued to all farmers who had filled the mang patras.
As a force-multiplier to the D2D exercise, a Bus Yatra was planned with Captain at its helm.A special high-tech bus was introduced for the first time in the state for this Yatra which travelled continuously for the 3 days and doubled up as a mobile public addressal platform for impromptu meetings. Captain travelled more than 500 KMS, across 8 districts and held meetings and roadshows in the three days taking his farm loan promise far & wide. During this bus yatra Captain Amarinder Singh visited 10 mandis and had over 13 big meetings at pre-identified locations.
A total of 34 lakh unique mang patras were filled during the course of the campaign, touching around 33,000 households and 9000 villages across 117 assembly constituencies. Through various media – social, traditional, and on-ground activities, I-PAC was able to reach out to around 2.5 crore people across the state of Punjab.
To break into what was perceived as the core constituency of the Aam Aadmi Party – the youth – and to target his poll promise at the identified group, Captain Smart Connect Scheme was launched to enable the Congress in Punjab to establish mass-contact with the youth.
To digitally connect and empower the youth of Punjab, Captain promised to give them smartphones and data packs. With a big-bang event for announcement and setting up a portal for enrolling in this scheme, CSCS saw 30 Lakh registrations in 20 days.
To counter the rising youth unemployment in state, Captain Amarinder Singh committed to providing one job per household in the state, or a commensurate unemployment allowance in its stead.All that the family had to do was, nominate a ‘captain’ from amongst themselves who would be entitled for this job/allowance. I-PAC and party volunteers went door-to-door registering people for this initiative, and handing out unemployment allowance cards. Each unemployment allowance card had a unique associated number against which a person could generate an OTP, thereby enrolling themselves in the program.
A 30-day campaign, HGC witnessed 40 LakhRegistrations.
Punjab Congress Express was Congress’ campaign on wheels - 13 specially designed hi-tech mini buses for each of the 13 Parliamentary constituencies of Punjab. It was designed for ‘Congress Liyao, Punjab Bachao’ Campaign and was later used as a force multiplier for other campaigns such as Karza Kurki Kahatam Fasal Di Poori Rakam and Har Ghar Toh Ikk Captain.
This grassroots outreach campaign was done by 40 tall leaders of the Congress Party who criss-crossed all of Punjab within a period of 32 days. During this outreach programmes, the leaders used to address Nukkad meetings at 4 different points each day in different constituencies. With a dedicated campaign having other party-leaders at its heart, who espoused one-message across geographies, I-PAC was able to build a narrative around Congress’ unity in the state.
With a clear victory in sight, Punjab Congress upped-its ante in the last three days before elections and besieged the electorate to not stop at just making Congress win, but securing its mandate with a 2/3rd majority. In a massive show of strength, the Punjab congress across the state took out bike rallies, roadshows, door to door exercise, mega rallies, street plays, pad yatras, anddholbajas creating an atmosphere of an apparent victory. The slogan, Captain nu mat 2/3 Bahumat (do tihaaibahumat) was plastered all over the state - while the campaign song, Chahunda Hai Punjab - Captain Di Sarkar was played through these activities.
Over 13,000 bikers raced around the state with Congress flag on their bikes. That apart, 400 dholwalas, and 1500 volunteers on ground were involved in door to door engagement. Simultaneously, 500 nukkad plays and sabhas were also conducted.