Behind every successful political party is a strategist.

At one time Prashant Kishore achieved cult status for orchestrating big wins for the BJP through Chai pe Charcha discussions, and later JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar.

Now, meet his protégé Robbin Sharrma, the strategist behind Telugu Desam Party’s spectacular showing.

“When we picked the project in 2020, everyone said we are betting on a wrong project,” says Sharrma of ShowTime Consulting (STC), who crafted the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP’s dramatic turnaround in Andhra Pradesh.

Sharrma and some of his colleagues were earlier with Prashant Kishore’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) but broke away toform their own consultancy.

The TDP was a difficult project, acknowledge Sharrma and his colleague Shantanu Singh.

2-tier war room

Sharrma curated a two-tier war room, which was headed by Singh. They said their approach was a departure from the traditional top-down thinking.

The TDP strategy outpost consisted of a central command centre (CCC) in the city, and hundreds of field workers. The CCC brought office-bearers across 175 Assembly constituencies on a common platform, creating an extensively interconnected network.

This network helped real-time issue identification and monitoring across the State, while shaping customised micro-strategies for every Assembly segment.

The mandate from the client was clear: “To win the elections”, and we had to deliver it, says Sharrma.

Real-time data

For the TDP, the STC professionals had to coordinate with a cadre of 1,400-plus individuals on the ground.

The CCC was able to achieve real-time monitoring of customised outreach initiatives for specific target groups, including youth, women, SC/ST communities, and BCs. It also identified and focussed on 14,61,200 fence-sitting voters.

“To ensure effective operations, STC had picked a combination of State leads, zonal managers, data analysts, researchers and PR professionals from its team,” Singh said. As a result of churning through all this data, the CCC was able to identify the discontent brewing against the Land Titling Act and turn it into a major narrative for the TDP closer to the elections.

Meets & Yatras

Chandrababu Naidu tore a copy of the Act during his Praja Galam meeting in Darsi, and asked people to speak up against its draconian provisions.

The CCC not only helped the TDP run multiple campaigns simultaneously, but also ensured a seamless uniformity of narrative across each one of them.

“An example of this is Nara Bhuvaneswari’s Nijam Gelavali Yatra , which started off as a meeting to thank the people for their support after Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s arrest. However, the campaign soon evolved into a State-wide condolence yatra after the CCC learnt that close to 200 people had succumbed to the shock of Naidu’s arrest,” members of STC said.

On the use of the social media, Sharrma said that YouTube and Facebook were the tools used versus TV ads.

Nothing succeeds like success, and just a few days after the result, Sharrma and his team are besieged by calls and enquiries.

The Andhra Pradesh story will surely beget more sequels.