By Krishna Kumar, ET Bureau | 5 Aug, 2014, 04.00AM IST
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Led by its national co-convenor Vinit Goenka, the party got in touch with the army officers, professors and other experts.
MUMBAI: Narendra Modi's successful prime ministerial bid was attributed in large part to the aggressive social media campaign unleashed by the BJP's IT cell. Not many outside the party know, however, that the strategy included exploring Kautilya's 'Arthashastra' - the ancient Indian text on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy - to taking tips from retired lieutenant generals on psychological warfare and picking the brains of an IIM-A professor.
The BJP is set to deploy much the same strategy in the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra and other states that resulted in the blitzkrieg that eclipsed the competition's efforts in the run-up to the general elections.
The story began in 2012, when the top rung of the BJP's IT cell decided it was time to get back into the driver's seat at the Centre with a foolproof plan to approach the masses because they felt that the mainstream media was ignoring them.
Led by its national co-convenor Vinit Goenka, the party got in touch with the army officers, professors and other experts. Not one of these experts was a BJP supporter, but they agreed to help out after members of the IT cell reached out to them.
Radhakrishnan Pillai, director of Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership, who also teaches and researches 'Arthashastra', taught the top BJP cadre about how mass psychology works.
The untold stories of Narendra Modi's social media plan in Lok Sabha pollsThe untold stories of Narendra Modi's social media plan in Lok Sabha polls
"Vinit wanted to learn about how the masses think, how to influence 121 crore people, using the IT communication platform. We borrowed from the Arthashastra on how to target different groups and how best to reach out to, say, those above 60, those between 18 and 35, etc.," Pillai said. Pillai also taught them the importance of gathering all information early in the morning.
"For any king, information gathering and foreign policy are key. In the Arthashastra, a king is supposed to use his spies in the night so that by early morning he has all the information required to prepare his strategy," he said.
So, every morning before 6 am, Goenka's team was already on the job finding out what was trending on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The BJP team also sought out army officers - two (retired) lieutenant generals and one retired lieutenant colonel with military intelligence, who did not wish to be named - for tips on how to ensure discipline and order among the rank and file.