You might think the app is from a nifty tech startup. But it is (a first) from a political party. Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to pilot test a chat-based collaboration tool that it hopes will help it win elections.
The app, called BJP Connect, will be initially rolled out to volunteers working for the party in the state elections in Karnataka to be held before May 2018. If the pilot is successful, the party has ambitions to take the app national before the 2019 general elections.
The app is currently on the Google Play Store but isn’t fully functional yet. A source, who has seen the design documents of the app, told FactorDaily that it will play a big role in consolidating the parties volunteer base and bringing in a “task based” approach.
The mobile app borrows some of its features from the India272 (now-defunct) volunteer portal and app that BJP had launched in 2014 to support its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Modi, who won the 2014 elections with a thumping majority, also has his own app that has millions of downloads.
The BJP Connect app has additional features that are enterprise grade, say a bit like Asana, a popular collaboration tool.
BJP Connect can be used by members of the organisation to chat with each other and set up group chats. Admins of these chat groups will be able to conduct polls, assign tasks, and even broadcast live videos.
K Amresh, convenor of BJP’s IT cell in Karnataka told FactorDaily that the app is likely to be launched when party president Amit Shah visits the state next month. “From a state perspective, no one has done this so far,” Amresh said.
Volunteers and party workers right from booth level to the national level can register on the app. Once a user is verified, he or she can start engaging with other users on the app.
Until now, much of BJP’s work organizing before elections has been driven through WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages.
FactorDaily had reported earlierthat the party has created nearly 5,000 WhatsApp groups to propagate its message in Karnataka. “We need content writers, bloggers, social media experts, cartoonists so we asked how do we engage with them better,” said Amresh, explaining the thinking behind BJP Connect.
The party claims to have over 85 lakh registered members in the state and nearly 25,000 members in its IT cell. These volunteers are being trained in using various tools to help the party get its message across to the electorate.
The 2018 assembly polls will be a tough fight for BJP which has vowed to root the Congress party out of the southern state. The BJP ceded power to the Congress in 2013 after a five-year term mired in allegations of corruption.
In May this year, Congress appointed actor-turned politician Divya Spandana (a.k.a Ramya) to lead its social media efforts nationally. The party has been hiring aggressively to beef up its social media team. According toreports, the Congress, had posted many job openings including for profiles such as analytics manager, digital media planner, video editor, animator and caricaturist, to up its social media game.
The BJP, however, has been so far way ahead of rival parties when it comes to using technology to get its message across. Much of its technology prowess comes from its IT cell that’s run by party officials and a large number of volunteers. In UP elections earlier this year, where the party won 325 seats out of 403, the social media cell played a crucial role. The party had created 8,000 WhatsApp groups and also appointed round the clock staff to work on its social media channels.
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Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and Vijay Shekhar Sharma among its investors. Accel Partners is an early investor in Flipkart. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. None of FactorDaily’s investors have any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.