#CongregationsIndia: Event Managers Can Help Build Communities During Polls, Says Rajdeep Sardesai

Industry Watch | January 5, 2021 | News

Rajdeep Sardesai India Today TV Congregations India Ujjwal K Chowdhury Adamas University, Kolkata

Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today TV was in conversation withUjjwal K Chowdhury, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Adamas University on elections, electioneering, election campaigning and the changes ahead in the digital age at ‘CONGREGATIONS INDIA: Government, Political & Religious Events Summit’ organised by EVENTFAQS Media on December 24, 2020.

2019 elections vs 2020 elections
On the difference between elections in 2019 and 2020, Sardesai said, “What has happened in our politics as a result of the pandemic is that you can't use the election maidan alone to do your events, the necessity now is to perhaps move to virtual, to connect with millions of your followers through Facebook, through Instagram, and that has almost changed the rules of the game.”

For example, in Bengal, where elections are taking place in April-May, there are about 80,000 polling booths. The BJP already has almost 80,000 WhatsApp groups created - one for every booth. Now, that is the level of micromanagement that you can do in terms of your messaging. We are in the age of micro-messaging. In some way, you could argue that was even done in the age of door-to-door campaigning –go to each person, give him a leaflet, explain to him, have a physical meeting. The physical contact may be missing at times, but politicians are creating through WhatsApp a sense of community. The future is to create WhatsApp communities,” he added.

Event manager’s role in elections
Talking to session moderator Ujjwal Chowdhury on the role of event managers in elections,Sardesai said, “What if an event manager, for example, connected all the WhatsApp groups of a particular political party, either through a conclave, which is virtually done because of the pandemic, and ensured that there was enough communication to each of those groups and then built a community? The event manager’s role is to solidify this community building aspect. Can they bring together all the volunteers of the BJP and stage an event, let's say, for the Bengal elections of April-May, where they are all able to interact in some way with each other? The physical aspect may be missing, but you can connect them all together and so events will now have to move virtual, there is no doubt in my mind.”

“You have to invest 40-50% of your efforts in ensuring that the connection is there. But you have to also ensure that the backroom is in place. That's where event managers can actually help in bringing the blend of the two – physical and virtual - together. So when you're staging a rally, you're also ensuring the backroom is in place,” he added.

Suggestions for events industry
Ujjwal Chowdhury concluded the session by adding, “Electioneering in the new age post pandemic is one through hyperconnectivity; second through experiential campaigns, which bring the physical and the digital together; third through blended campaigns, the extended campaigns down to the booth level with WhatsApp groups; fourthInternet penetration which is very important to make messaging effective; five, regionalization of languages and bringing in the human aspect through memes, songs and local languages to drive home the message and finally building the community digitally and physically.”

Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today TV spoke about elections, electioneering, election campaigning and the changes ahead in the digital age at the Congregations India summit.

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