In the run-up to the 2024 general elections, which will be preceded by a round of balloting this winter for the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and Telangana, there has been a surge in demand for young graduates across a raft of independent political consultants and party-affiliated agencies, said spokespersons at leading political parties and recruitment experts.
Freshers are being hired from institutes across the reputational gradient – from regional professional colleges to the top-deck IITs and IIMs.
There is an estimated demand for more than 20,000 people who could potentially find employment in policy-related consulting in the months ahead.
I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee) is hiring graduates for campaign and field operations, research and insights, data analytics & technology and digital communications.
Varahe Analytics, Inclusive Minds, and Nation With Namo and several other small and mid-sized firms are said to be looking for youngsters to strengthen their teams in the build-up to the general elections next year, according to industry insiders. “I will call it the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect. Every MP/MLA today wants a team of his or her own to manage their campaign design, social media presence and digital support, conduct ground-level research, prepare manifesto, and for execution of the entire campaign,” said Pratik Jain, co-founder and director, I-PAC, which is working with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh. “It has become an industry in itself.”Swaniti Initiative, a non-partisan organisation that works in the area of public policy, received requests from 25-30 MPs to help them with communication and messaging on social media.
“We are in the process of launching a 3-6 month full-time fellowship of fresh undergraduates at Rs 10-15,000 stipend a month in the areas of social media, governance and policy making,” said CEO Rwitwika Bhattacharya.
Dance of Democracy
This would give fresh graduates a ringside view of the dance of democracy — and the option to switch careers into mainstream corporates after this high-visibility assignment.
Swaniti is focusing on recruiting from tier 3 and 4 towns, including Nandurbar, a tribal dominated district of Maharashtra, Pakur and Godda in Jharkhand, and other regions such as Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, and Sirsa in Haryana.
“Social media is a great way to get the pulse of people. It enables MPs to tap into local sentiment as well as to convey stories and insights on regional and local issues directly,” said the CEO of a mid-sized consulting company that advises members from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party across various state-level constituencies.
Regional language skills are also in demand, the person added.
There is immediate demand for social media and digital specialists to manage the digital presence of MPs and MLAs to get them a greater visibility and following. There are also the research and analytics teams that give speech and survey inputs, and design slogans and manifestos. That apart, the field teams are responsible for gathering on-ground intelligence, giving feedback from each gram panchayat and each booth on public sentiment.
The estimated manpower cost per MP candidate with a team of about 8-10 members could be anywhere around Rs 5-10 lakh/month. It could be much higher in the case of a team with young graduates from Tier 1 colleges, with compensation on a par with competing corporate engagements.
Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said management consultants do help MPs and MLAs in their social media and branding, but it is important that the political candidate should be able to present his/her originality of vision before the voters. “In fact, we should now take it to the next level (like it happens in the West) where there should be public debate between two candidates contesting each other where they share their vision with the people,” Vallabh said.
The larger consultants recruit from the top colleges. Apart from IIMs and IITs, I-PAC hires fresh graduates from other top institutes like NLU, TISS, Delhi University and Jadavpur University. Lateral hires include experienced corporate professionals.