US-based political consultant Steve Jarding, engaged by UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, and his team on the ground have set about preparing a jumbo network of dedicated workers. Claiming their target is 30 lakh such workers, they said 15 lakh have already been identified. They will dedicate themselves to working exclusively on promoting Akhilesh. They will be based in villages across the state to spread his message of development among the masses.
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Part of “Samajwadi Vikas Yojana Pramukh”, these volunteers will not also help villagers address their day-to-day problems with government services. They will be connected with a centralised ‘facilitation-cum-call centre’ being developed in Lucknow. A special software has already been developed to connect each of these volunteers through the facilitation centre in Lucknow through Android phones.
Selection of volunteers is reportedly going on; sources said Jarding would personally train at least 4,000 “master trainers” who would then go out at block levels to train more.
The special campaign will focus on the theme “Entitlement vs Empowerment”.
“It might seem like an ambitious target but we already have collected a large database with contact numbers and each day the number is multiplying. The task of these volunteers would be to help villagers for resolving specific scheme-related issues, delay in payments, lackadaisical attitude of any particular officer and immediately inform the centralised facilitation center in Lucknow,” said Adwait Singh, deputy campaign director for Jarding in UP. He girls and women are among those who have agreed to work as volunteers.
Teams have been asked to form one “law and order pramukh” in each village. This pramukh would help villagers lodge FIRs, inform the call centre in Lucknow about any crime and if villagers have any complaint regarding local police. The centre would act as a link between the government and political functionaries.
“If issues are not resolved that way, we would gather volunteers from the neighbouring areas to gherao that particular officer,” said a functionary also associated with the preparations, adding that the name “pramukh” would give them a sense of power and responsibility at village level.
He said the set-up and training would take at least 15 days to be functional on the ground and thus they are largely targeting the second phase of Akhilesh’s yatra, which is likely to start from third week of November.
The target is to keep youngsters as most of these volunteers, as they would be comfortable with social media and mobile applications.