UTV

Meet 28-yr-old Md Ihtesham who scripted victory for Odisha’s first Muslim MLA Sofia Firdous

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s political landscape recently witnessed a historic moment in 2024 when Sofia Firdous became the first female Muslim MLA in the state. Many poll watchers attribute Sofia’s success to the exceptional work of Md Ihtesham, a 28-year-old strategist who is often hailed as Odisha’s very own ‘PK’ (India’s well-known poll strategist Prashant Kishor).

Md Ihtesham’s journey to this achievement wasn’t easy. He navigated a political environment dominated by the ruling BJD (Biju Janata Dal) and the powerful Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. Despite these significant challenges, his innovative strategies and relentless efforts paid off, ensuring an emphatic victory for Sofia.

How Ihtesham crossed Self-Help Group hurdle

One of the significant hurdles before Ihtesham was countering the strong Self-Help Group (SHG) network in Cuttack, known for its loyalty to the BJD. These groups, primarily composed of women, were a critical voter base. However, Md Ihtesham saw this challenge as an opportunity. To counter the SHG influence, he introduced the Moquim Mahila Ashwasan Card before the election season. This initiative reached over 50,000 households without any publicity on social media, focusing on direct community engagement. The card provided various benefits and assurances to women, addressing their immediate needs and concerns.

Introducing ‘Prathama Cuttack’

While the BJD promoted their Nua Nabin Odisha initiative, Md Ihtesham launched ‘Prathama Cuttack’ (Cuttack First). This programme targeted the specific needs and aspirations of Cuttack’s residents, emphasising local development projects, improved infrastructure, and better healthcare and educational facilities. Prathama Cuttack resonated deeply with the local populace, setting Sofia’s campaign apart from her competitors.

Social media and ground campaigns

Md Ihtesham adopted a two-pronged strategy. First, he utilised social media to build a robust online presence for Sofia Firdous. This digital strategy reached a broader audience, especially young voters highly active online. Within 15 days, Sofia’s social media reach crossed 25 million, a remarkable achievement. His team produced engaging content that highlighted Sofia’s vision, her plans for the future, and her commitment to the community. They were also pioneers in using motion graphics videos in an election campaign in Odisha, a first for any political party or politician in the state.

However, an online presence alone wasn’t enough. Ihtesham complemented this with a strong ground campaign. His team spent six months fully present in Cuttack, starting with an extensive survey to understand the ground reality. They then launched a series of strategic initiatives, including a mega sports event, student felicitation programmes, and Prathama Heritage, which invited all ex-army personnel. These events helped build a strong community presence and trust.

Making history despite adversities

The efforts paid off. Sofia Firdous’ victory was a testament to the power of a well-crafted campaign strategy. Despite the dominance of the ruling BJD and the influence of the BJP, the innovative approach and dedication of the campaign team helped Sofia make history as the first female Muslim MLA in Odisha. While the BJD was internally fighting for their tickets, Md Ihtesham’s team effectively reached out to the people.

“This victory of Sofia Firdous is a significant milestone in Odisha’s political landscape. It demonstrates that with the right strategy and a committed team, even the most formidable challenges can be overcome,” said Ihtesham.

Md Ihtesham’s work in this campaign has set a new benchmark in political strategy in Odisha. His ability to blend modern digital techniques with traditional ground campaigning has proven to be a winning formula. As Odisha’s political scene continues to evolve, the impact of this historic victory will be felt for years to come.

Starting his career under the guidance of Prashant Kishor in the West Bengal elections of 2021, Ihtesham quickly established himself as a formidable political strategist. He honed his skills and expanded his influence in subsequent elections, playing pivotal roles in the 2022 Punjab elections, the 2023 Karnataka elections, and the 2023 Rajasthan elections.

[]

What’s your Reaction?
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0

Related posts

Anti-CAA protests intensify in Assam as AASU stages hunger strikes

admin

Telangana: Yadadri annual brahmotsavams from February 19

admin

Two more arrested in TSPSC paper leak case

admin

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.