Playing the Trump card

Helping Donald Trump in the election race for the Presidential chair is a Telugu guy Avinash Iragavarapu.

Avinash Iragavarapu is the Executive Director for Arizona Republican party. He earlier worked with Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s party during the 2014 general elections.

Born in Rajahmundry, Avinash studied in Vijayawada and Vizag. He later pursued MBA from IIM Lucknow, after which he moved to Delhi and later to Hyderabad for two-and-half years.

Avinash shares his journey about how a vacation in the US landed him one of the most important positions in Donald Trump’s office. Excerpts from an interview:

How did you associate yourself with the Republican Party?
In 2014, I was on a holiday in America, when elections were around the corner. I researched about the Governor race and analysed past voting trends, did some polling and approached a candidate by the name Doug Ducey, who was running for Governor. He gave me an opportunity to work on his campaign, where I played a significant role in his success. He then referred me to the state Republican Party to work on the general elections.

I was recognised for my expertise in using data and building different models to fine tune the campaign strategy and get a higher ROI for the dollars spent on the campaign. After the unprecedented success in turning out republican voters, I was offered a job as the Political Director and within a short span, I was promoted as the Executive Director for Arizona Republican party.

Did politics always interest you?
I’ve been interested in politics since my childhood. My grandfather was involved in politics at the local level. Even during my MBA, after every class I used to keep wondering how I can apply those concepts in political campaigns. I was in Delhi after my MBA, where I participated in TV debates and met political leaders, shared my ideas and took their feedback. I worked a little in one of the northern state elections in 2011.

You’ve worked with YSR Congress. Why do you think it failed to get a majority in the 2014 elections?
When Y.S. Jagan started the party, I approached him during one of his Delhi visits. I was introduced to Y.S. Anil Reddy, who gave me the opportunity to prove myself.

The 2014 election was special. The state was divided close to the elections and that didn’t work out well. Chandrababu Naidu’s past experience as CM helped TDP. YSRCP had phenomenal success too — in their first general election itself they won 67 seats. Also, YSRCP went alone to the election and all the other parties formed an alliance — TDP, BJP, Janasena.

Back to Donald Trump, what are the strategies you have put in place for his campaign?
I can’t talk about our specific election strategies. As the Executive director, I am responsible for the victory of Republican Party in Arizona. There are more than 40 different races, including Presidential, US Congress and US Senate.

I maintain strategic relationships with various groups of the party, key influencers, volunteers, elected officials to ensure a smooth and concerted effort. The cost of loss is very high because one has to wait for another four years to contest in the election. Hence it is very important to be strategically and tactically prepared for any event.

How is Donald Trump off stage?
He is a completely different person. He is a successful businessman and knows how to work with various stake-holders. He is pleasant and approachable. During the election campaign, it is natural for every politician to posture themselves.

Yes, he made comments which did not go well with some people. But he is not a traditional career politician. Most career politicians don’t say certain things just to be politically correct. But Donald Trump speaks like a normal citizen and that has very well resonated with people.

How are Indians in the US viewing Trump, as he blames them for taking away American jobs?
Nationalism is on rise in every country. Narendra Modi won on the same wave and even Brexit is a result of that. However, the beauty of this country is that no one is treated unequally. I haven’t heard even one person saying that he was denied a job because he is an Indian.

Would you ever want to help parties in India with election campaigns?
Yes, I have plans to come back to India. I would like to work in multiple states and not only in Andhra Pradesh. I have learned a lot by working in the US campaigns over the past 2 years and there is a lot of scope for improvement in Indian campaigns.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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