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December 7, 2017

Congress takes lead over BJP in Karnataka, sets up election war room


Bengaluru, Dec 7: The ruling Congress, which is leaving no stone unturned to retain power, has set up a corporate-style war room in the city to take on the BJP ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections.

In a first, a 30-member team of young professionals has been set up to plan the party's poll campaign and ensure it retains power. The war room is located in the affluent Vasanthnagar locality.

In political parlance, the term war-room was coined by a team of political strategists in the United States who worked for Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in the early 1990s. Ever since, war rooms have become a regular fixture in election campaigns. The Congress had a war room in place in 2009 headed by former union minister Jayaram Ramesh.

Equipped with wall-mounted TVs, recorders and rows of laptops, the war room of the state Congress has been set up on the lines of the one headed by actor-turned-politician Ramya at the national level. It will act as a command centre to frame the party's poll campaign narrative and counter attacks against BJP leaders, while researching to launch an offensive at short notice. For now, the focus is on a full-fledged social media battle with the BJP.

"In the 2013 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party was sporadic in its campaign effort here. The war room means that there is an organised, focused content generation and research that is happening," party sources directly involved with the war room said, requesting anonymity.

The Congress set up the war room in August. The #BariOluModi, #BariSulluYeddyurappa (a pun identical to Yeddyurappa's abbreviation BSY) and #ConstitutionNammaDharma were some recent campaigns the war room planned and launched that helped the party gain traction. Now, a concerted #BJPUgraAgenda campaign is on to target Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha. The campaigns are planned in tandem with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's in-house social media team.

The team comprises full-time professionals having experience in political campaigns and content writing. The party is paying them salaries. "A campaign management team will be in place closer to the polls," sources said.

The war room is part of a larger effort towards content dissemination, said Srivatsa Y B, a software professional heading the state Congress' digital team. "In each of the 55,000 booths, we are appointing an youngster who can handle digital assets," he said.

The party has taken a stand that it will not push out fake news as part of its social media campaigns. "This has given us the edge and more credibility," Srivatsa said.

Congress takes lead over BJP in Karnataka, sets up election war room


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