I-PAC took up Uttar Pradesh elections for Indian National Congress (INC) in April 2016. With the party being virtually written-off in the state, I-PAC planned a series of disruptors to get people talking about the Congress in UP again. By announcing former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit as the party’s Chief Ministerial face, and a series of sustained campaigns, I-PAC by extracting the first-movers advantage were set to propel Congress into victory in the state after 27 years!
To re-invigorate the party cadre and build their connect with the leadership, the UP campaign was inaugurated withUdghosh. Held in Lucknow’s Rama Bai Ambedkar ground in July, the stage was set for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and other senior leader’s interaction with 60,000 party workers.
An innovative set-up for an “adhiveshan”, the ramp extended into the audience which allowed party-workers to get up, close and personal with their VP as he answered their questions. The attendees were all brought on board onto a tech-enabled platform for ease of communication in the coming weeks and months.
The foremost campaignlaunched by I-PAC for Congress ‘27 Saal UP Behaal’ focused on UP’s 27-years long suffering due to successive misrule by governments since Congress lost power in the state in 1989.
More than 27 branded buses were flagged off by Congress President Sonia Gandhi from the AICC Headquarters in Delhi for a60-day yatra. With Raj Babbar, Sheila Dikshit, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pramod Tiwari at the helm of this four-phased yatra, the campaign saw these leaders reaching out to the masses on the street and establishingpublic connect through ‘Aam Sabhas’.
The yatra covered 10 districts from Delhi to Kanpur. On the first day the yatra covered four districts each day from Delhi to Ghaziabad followed by Hapur, Amroha and Moradabad. It then traveled to Shahjahanpur, Rampur and Bareilly and on the third it covered Hardoi, Kannauj and finally ended the yatra at Kanpur.
The 27 saal yatra was followed up by Sonia Gandhi herself entering the field and taking PM Narendra Modi head on, in his own bastion of Varanasi through her Roadshow.
The 6.4 km roadshow which took over 8 hours to culminate, was perceived as Mrs. Gandhi’s open challenge to the PM by highlight the problems faced by various communities even after two years of Mr Narendra Modi’s rule.
The spectacular success of the roadshow showed a massive strength of 45,000 travelling with Sonia Gandhi’s cavalcade. The march began with Sonia Gandhi garlanding the statue of BR Ambedkar at the Circuit House followed by the roadshow with open sunroof vehicle. Dozens of mini trucks displaying ‘27 saal UP behaal’ were part of the cavalcade along with 10,000 motorcycles. The on ground enthusiasm was reflected online as twitteratis trended #SoniainKashi for hours.
Kisan Yatra, the mega outreach initiative by AICC saw the party rank & file carry out a massive public outreach campaign for farm loan waiver. There were two major components, of this extensive Kisan campaign – Khat Sabhas along with roadshows conducted by Rahul Gandhi, and adoor-to-door campaign accompanied by Mangraths
The 60 day Khat Sabhas witnessed an innovative mass connect exercise where the Congress VP interacted with farmers sitting on khats (cots). This rustic setting of meetings werehalts in the 2500 km mahayatra that Rahul Gandhi undertook from Deoria to Delhi.
While kick-starting the Khat Sabha in Deoria, Rahul Gandhi also went to Pakladhi village to begin the door-to-door campaign for farmers. This campaign maneuvered around his three promises of forgiving debt as close to 70 lakh farmers in UP were weighed down by debt, halving the electricity prices and increasing MSP. Around 2.5 lakh kit containing forms comprising these promises were filled out by 2.5 crore farmers with the help of the party cadre and were collected by branded vans called the mangraths.
The wide reception of the campaign prompted BJP to announce its own loan waiver, which soon became the agenda of UP elections.