The Congress polled about 11 crore votes to win the 2009 general election decisively. In 2014, when the country votes again, it will have more than 14 crore mobile Internet users alone. That’s a thought for pause. And that’s the thought that Narendra Modi seized upon at a BJP office-bearers’ meeting in Delhi on April 7 to underline how the 2014 polls could be won — on the Internet. Two months later, after being named the BJP’s campaign committee chief, he told a Maharashtra core group meeting that there were 165 Lok Sabha seats where social media could be used to enhance the campaign pitch.
That thought has since then fructified into an Information and Communication sub-committee headed by Rajya Sabha MP Piyush Goyal, as part of the panels set up by the BJP on July 19 to look after various aspects of its poll campaign. The sub-committee in turn is helped by the party’s IT cell, with an alumnus of IIT-BHU, Arvind Gupta, as convenor, and a Communication (or Samvad) Cell, headed by an MBA degree holder from IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade), Anupam Trivedi.
The BJP’s IT drive includes a third arm outside the party fold: Rajesh Jain. An IIT-Bombay alumnus and one of the original IT entrepreneurs turned venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs, he is working as a volunteer for the party.
“Rajesh, Arvind and Anupam are the three pillars of my Information and Communication sub-committee,” says Piyush Goyal.
While Gupta and his team look after digital and social media platforms, Trivedi’s men work on content development. Jain and his self-initiated team handle IT-enabled election management down to the booth level.
If anyone had doubts about how thorough this work was, Jain effectively removed these at a meeting in the Capital on August 18, according to those present. Asked to make a presentation before a gathering of BJP central office-bearers, state unit chiefs and state organisation secretaries, Jain took up former deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Modi as an example, used a software tool that crawls through the Election Commission’s database of electoral rolls, identified the BJP leader’s polling booth, then the other voters from his family registered there, and ended up finding that there were two voter cards issued to one member of Sushil Modi’s extended family. By then, Jain had the audience’s complete attention.
Alternatively, the presentation showed that the software could be