Tripura Polls: The electoral politics behind CM helpline numbers

Tripura’s CM has adopted the methods new election campaign by launching a direct CM helpline number before elections

Close to the lines of ‘Didi Ke Bolo’, the chief minister of Tripura had launched a direct CM helpline number around three days ago. This has fueled political blame-game across West Bengal and Tripura. TMC leaders are calling Tripura BJP a ‘copy cat’.

Political mockery over CM helpline numbers is important

But is this mockery necessary at all? Yes, it is partly mandatory to form an electoral opinion. With 18 months to go for Tripura state polls, TMC is trying to rest its current campaign on calling BJP a copycat.

“@BjpBiplab has only one skill – Ctrl C + Ctrl V! While #Didi leads by example, @BJP4Tripura government is simply imitating the #BengalModel. What happened to Mr. @narendramodi’s nationally acclaimed #GujaratModel, Biplab Babu?” TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar tweeted.334

The importance of CM helpline numbers in polls

In the last few years, Indian poll campaigns have changed a lot. They are more focused on target attacks than debating on development issues and people’s problems. In any election campaign, the opposition majorly attacks the government on its effectiveness in dealing with mass grievances.

This particular style of election campaigning has led both Mamata Banerjee and Biplab Kumar Deb to launch direct helpline numbers right before the election. ‘Didi Ke Bolo’was launched in July 2019 after facing a huge setback in the Lok Sabha Polls. Lossing ground connect was the main reason for TMC’s unexpected setback.

Tripura Polls: The electoral politics behind CM helpline numbers
The ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ poster

In a bid to counter Banerjee’s mass outreach scheme, BJP had also started ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ during the Bengal elections last year.

Tamil Nadu also launched CM helpline numbers before polls

Direct CM helplines numbers are not exclusive to Bengal. The then Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami had also launched ‘The Integrated and Inclusive Public Grievance CM Helpline Management System’, a two-way communication platform before the state election. Under the integrated system, people can register their grievances and get them resolved in one place.

A few months later, Palaniswami has launched a toll-free number (1100) for grievance redressal. As per the announcement, people may use a dedicated cm portal (CMHelpline.tnega.org). They may also e-Mail complaints at cmhelpline@tn.gov.in. Alternatively, they can download a mobile application, ‘CMHelpline Citizen’ to lodge their grievances.

This decision was taken after DMK started collecting people’s grievances with a poll promise to resolve them ‘within 100 days of coming to power’. Even Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had introduced dedicated CM helpline numbers.

The success of these CM helpline numbers aiding electoral victory

The effect of these helpline numbers cannot be accessed directly in elections. But experts have always quoted the importance of mass outreach programs in poll victory. To judge their effect, one has to analyze the number of calls received and the number of problems resolved through these numbers.

Within the first month of the launch of ‘Didi Ke Bolo’, the executives received around 4.2 lakhs complaints, Mamata Banerjee tweeted in August 2019.

According to her tweet, more than 10 lakhs people had approached the helpline in August, of which 4.2 lakhs (42%) have registered grievances. Around 32 % of callers have offered suggestions. This scheme had set the process of people connecting to the government officials for redressal.

Similarly, CM Biplab Kumar Deb decided to launch the helpline numbers after a successful trial run in the Dhalai district. Initially, the service will be available from 8 am to 8 pm across the state. The calls will be managed by the Integrated Task Monitoring System (ITMS). 

 Interestingly, both these services offer information about the newly launched schemes and accept suggestions making governance easy and accessible. Every Indian wants an easily accessible government.

Also during ‘Didi Ke Bolo’, the executive received calls complaining about the local administration. It has helped in solving the ground-level crisis of the party.

Tripura CM is already facing a communication crisis among its party members and local people, according to BJP workers. This particular scheme might help him to connect with his people better.  

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