The recently concluded Punjab Assembly elections saw 74-year-old Congress veteran, Capt Amarinder Singh return as the chief minister after 10 years of the SAD-BJP rule. While there were a number of factors — anti-incumbency being one among them — that led to the debacle of the SAD-BJP in Punjab, Prashant Kishore’s Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) ran a organised campaign cashing in on Sindh’s popularity and royal lineage.
For the first time in Punjab, this elections saw a three-cornered contest between the BJP-SAD, Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Contesting the assembly elections for the first time in Punjab, AAP ran a high-pitched campaign and looked likely to sweep the polls. A majority of the exit polls also reaffirmed the view that it would be a close fight between the AAP and Congress, some even predicting that the former may come out as single largest party in the state.
However, as the trends from counting booths trickled in, it became clear that the Congress will be comfortably attain a majority in the 117-member assembly. The party went on to win 77 seats, with AAP finishing a distant second winning only 20 seats. The BJP-SAD alliance was reduced to just 18 seats.
Here are the campaigns which may have helped in Congress’ victory in the state:
Coffee with Captain
Capt Amarinder Singh interacted with people from diverse backgrounds and age groups over ‘coffee’. The sessions were always interactive as he took questions from the participants. He gained a deeper insight about their problems and aspirations through his interactions. The sessions were designed in a way that they lasted for about two hours and helped Capt in understanding the mood of people and focusing on important issues during the election campaig.
Halke Vich Captain
With an aim to establish a personal connection with the public, Capt Amarinder Singh would visit ‘halkas’ of Punjab and interact with various stakeholders. According to the figures provided by IPAC, a total of 2,57,751 attended these meetings and 1,79,936 petitions were filed.
Punjab Congress Express
Around 40 Congress party leaders covered the length and breadth of Punjab, traveling in 13 specially designed mini buses for campaigning in every parliamentary constituency of the state. The campaign went on for 32 days and reached over 11 lakh people. As part of the campaign, the party leaders organised nukkad meetings to establish a direct contact with people. The Punjab Congress Express was also used to communicate about other campaigns and schemes of the party directly to the people.
Captain Smart Connect Scheme
The Congress party promised to give away 50 lakh smartphones with free data and calling to youth between the ages of 18 and 35. Over 30 lakh people registered online for the scheme. In areas without internet connectivity, Congress party and IPAC volunteers reached out to people and helped them register their name.
Karza Kurki Khatam – Fasal ki Poori Rakam
To woo the farmers in the state, the Congress party promised a number of schemes for them including waiving off all the debt. Agricultural labourers were also included in the scheme. Also assuring that the Congress government will look into the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations and implement as many of them as possible. It also promised to outlaw auctioning of farm land. And timely purchase of grain from the Mandi and payment within 24 hours was also part of its list of promsies. The party also organised a door-to-door campaign to spread this message and got ‘mang patras’ filled by people.
Har Ghar Captain
Promising to empower the youth of Punjab, the Congress party said it will provide a job for one person (between ages of 18 and 35) in every household. For a period of 36 months the party also promised that it will give Rs 2,500 as compensation till the time he/she gets a job. The catch: the youth needs to pledge to stay away from drugs.