The Congress’ Central War Room in Rajasthan is believed to play a significant role in coming days to wrest the anti-incumbency sentiment among the electorate, as the party believes spotlighting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s work can help them sail over the magic number of 100 seats. The state has 200 Assemby seats. Although, there is a widespread understanding that Congress in Rajasthan is facing heavy anti-incumbency on several individual seats, Congress leaders are sure that they can overshadow such a sentiment by spreading Gehlot’s work word-of-mouth. A top leader in Rajasthan said, “This time, we are not calling it a war room. We are calling it a ‘connect centre’. So, our activities not only span across providing data and aid to all the leaders within the organisation, but also connecting with ground on our own.”
The party’s social media platforms curated by Central War Room are also pushing to carpet-bomb minds of the electorate with the way Congress has governed the state by their top leader (Gehlot) signalling them (people) the grand old party’s sincerety towards them. The central war room seems to believe that by leading people to laser focus on Gehlot (of whom people prefer to speak positively), voters will have a fading memory of several individual legislators who are facing overwhelming anti-incumbency, thereby creating a momentary impression so that they can vote back the Congress. That sums up their slogan ‘kaam Kiya Dil se Congress sarkaar phirse’ (‘We have worked sincerely, therefore Congress should come again’).
The Sunday Guardian’s assessment on the ground is that several people are still not sure why they would want to vote for a particular party except for a few traditional voters of Congress who said they will again vote for the Congress because they only vote for them. However, they have been carrying a traditional electoral pattern in their minds and believe that the eventuality of “Rajasthan being a switch state” cannot be escaped.
Noting the prevailing sentiment (that the government is bound to change after every Assembly election) among the masses, a top Congress leader said, “That is true. There is a hangover of the past and there is a high possibility that such a sentiment will engineer their voting behaviour. But we are trying to counter it by reaching out to the same people and informing them about the welfare schemes Gehlot has announced. Moreover, there is a ‘cherry on the top’ kind of element in the face of Old Pension Scheme (OPS) that BJP is unlikely to continue if they come to power. And such an issue is impressionable as we have promised them to continue the OPS which can help Congress bolster their narrative.”
The Congress’ narrative, to overshadow the anti-incumbency sentiment, is also seen to be flavoured with the grand old party’s decision of giving opportunities to youth and women. A leader said, “We have given tickets to 40 odd youngsters and 25 women which we believe will set the tone for momentum building among youth and women which may considerably favour the Congress party.” Besides Rajasthan, the current leadership helming the central war room affairs (of Rajasthan) had also set up strategy for the Karnataka elections recently. A source close to the War room’s central leadership detailed how there is a difference between the Karnataka elections and Rajasthan elections. He said, “While setting foot in Karnataka elections, we were in the opposition scenario there. BJP was in power and their leaders had a lot many corruption cases against them. So, we picked up issues like these and amplified them. We tried to reach out to people through different ways to make people aware of the corruption which helped us overthrow the saffron government. But in Rajasthan, we are in power, so we are pushing for the work Gehlot has done in his tenure which in comparison is better than all past governments.”