Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh YadavReuters file

Looking to win a second consecutive term in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, Samajwadi Party has brought on board political consultant Steve Jarding of Harvard University to formulate a plan. 

Jarding, who has  been a campaigner, manager, political consultant and strategist since 1980, has worked for many high profile clients, including US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former US Vice President Al Gore, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Jarding teaches public policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

As an official adviser, Jarding's first plan is to redesign the publicity campaign for the SP government's welfare schemes. Actress Vidya Balan has been approached to promote the Samajwadi Pension Yojana.

"Samajwadi Pension Scheme has reached far and wide, but the problem is that the beneficiaries don't know whether it is a state scheme or central. So I suggested to the chief minister that the publicity programmes and campaigns be redesigned," Jarding was quoted as saying to the Times of India.

Speaking in Lucknow, Jarding, who has to finalise the micro-level management of election campaign for the party, praised Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for the connect he has with the youth and people in rural areas.

Harding would like to get feedback from every constituency to better understand local needs, instead of having a single manifesto for India's most populous state. His teams are camping in villages, getting feedback and sending it to the CM's office for urgent redressal.

Jarding will also coach SP candidates to improve their communication with people.

"The chief minister told me to stay in the house of the poorest of poor villagers, live with him for about a week, and then report. So I did, and sent my report," Jarding said. "District officials addressed the issues within 24 hours," he added while saying that the clean image of Akhilesh could be the potential "game changer."