Since last year, BJP president Amit Shah has emphasised one number: 22 crore. A voting bloc of 22 crore beneficiaries of at least one scheme of the Narendra Modi government in the past five years will take the party past the 300 mark, Shah said.
“With this foundation, we have done the work of a huge beneficiary outreach campaign,” he said at a press meet marking the end of campaigning.
This beneficiary outreach campaign connected the party to 18 crore beneficiaries through 161 call centres and 15,600 callers. Shah announced that the party had reached out to 24.81 crore people through this.
Sources told The Indian Express that 6 crore of these people were women, and 20 per cent of them were in the South. The seats that saw the most beneficiary outreach were 19 seats in Uttar Pradesh and four in Maharashtra, amounting to eight lakh beneficiaries, said sources.
A total of 14 crore people were contacted on the ground and 6 crore were reached through SMS and interactive phone calling.
The work began right after the 2014 victory, when Shah’s National Membership Drive collected over 11 crore missed calls by May 2015 and reached out to them.
This database was topped up with data of beneficiaries collected by party workers at Shah’s behest.
Sources claim that the initial collection of beneficiaries data was to the tune of 3 crore beneficiaries and later rose to 18 crore, with added numbers from gas companies and repeated on the ground campaigns to collect more missed calls.
Closer to the elections, in July 2018, Shah tasked party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav to reconnect to this database. The team set up one call centre for every three Lok Sabha constituencies with an average of 30 callers who were locally drawn and trained in political communication.
In the last few months of campaigning, the 2015 missed call dialers and the party workers reached out afresh to the beneficiaries’ homes in two BJP campaigns. In February, Mera Parivar BJP Parivar had workers and sympathisers visit the beneficiaries, get a missed call from them, and raise a flag in front of their home. In Kamal Jyoti Sankalp, workers asked beneficiaries to introduce them to more beneficiaries, adding another 8 crore phone numbers to the already collected 10 crore missed calls.
The BJP used services of a company called Jarvis Technologies to map the numbers to booths so that the call centers could conduct targeted campaigning. The call centre operations began in December and were monitored from 11 Ashoka Road.
“The soft message to the workers was you have to say two lines. Go there and say look, Modi has given schemes to this many families in only five years. Give him another five and you can make that number even more,” a senior core member of Jarvis told The Indian Express.