Punjab: Congress celebrates ground reports 68 seats. AAP sulks...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Hours after polling ended in Punjab, the Congress party broke into a celebration at its election ‘war room’ at a quiet corner in Mohali. Here a motley bunch of young IITians and graduates from foreign universities spent the day glued to their laptops, a huge LCD screen and mobile phones to track the pulse of the elections minute-by-minute, both on the ground and on social media.

The ‘war room’ set up by party strategist Prashant Kishor was the nerve centre of Congress’s campaign in the state.

Relishing a bite of the sweet dish Gulab Jamun, Rishi Raj Singh, one of I-PAC co-founders and directors, claimed “angry” tweets from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal served as an early indication that it was “advantage” Congress.

The Delhi CM had taken to Twitter to express his anger over malfunctioning of EVMs, differences in voting time in Goa (7 am to 5 pm) and Punjab (8 am to 5 pm) and accused the Election Commission of “surrendering completely” to the Narendra Modi government. The social media-savvy party had put just two posts on its official Facebook page. 

“Have you seen the Twitter handle of Kejriwal and AAP since morning?” is how Rishi started the conversation, adding that be it a snag in EVMs or differences in voting time, it was same for all parties.

“But it was only Kejriwal and his party leaders who were venting their anger. It shows which way the winds were blowing,” he added. But are tweets a barometer for early celebrations? Rishi said social media only confirmed the reports they were getting from the ground.

As per party’s post-poll calculations, it is winning 38 of Malwa’s 69 seats, 18 in Majha and around 12 in Doaba.

The I-PAC, whom Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh dubs as his “astrologers”, may have gauged public mood much like exit polls, but Rishi claims stalls of parties outside polling booths reveal the trend.“We had more people coming to Congress stalls in most of the booths. That itself indicates a lot,” he said.

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