Social media — the other battleground for political parties | assembly-elections$uttarakhand-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Social media — the other battleground for political parties

assembly elections Updated: Mar 10, 2017 16:53 IST
Neha Pant
A still from a viral video on chief minister Harish Rawat.

A still from a viral video on chief minister Harish Rawat.(HTPhoto)

Dehradun: The 2017 assembly poll adds a new chapter in electoral history of Uttarakhand, as perhaps it’s for the first time that a poll battle was fought as intensely in the real world as in the virtual. From viral spoofs to hilarious caricatures, the social media remained abuzz in the run up to the polls with a series of political campaigns.

Facebook and Twitter are the new battlegrounds and WhatsApp proving no less an effective tool for the political parties, especially Congress and BJP. At the centre of focus were over 41.32 lakh youth voters below the age of 40 who constitute not just over 55% of the state’s total electorate but also the biggest chunk of the social media-savvy users.

Among the viral videos circulated by the Congressmen was one which portrayed the chief minister as ‘Baahubali’, the protagonist of a fictional film, wherein a muscled Rawat was seen carrying an Uttarakhand-shaped rock on his shoulders. The Congress supporters also circulated mash up videos of superstar Rajanikanth, Bollywood movie Dangal and meme ‘Harda ko mitaa sake ye kisi mein dum nahin’ among others. Last month, Congressmen had ‘trended’ bank notes with ‘Yashpal Arya Bewafa Ha’” written on them in a spoof of the original ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’ meme.

One of the cartoon strips on Congress that was circulated by BJP workers in Dehradun. (HT Photo)

“The idea was to reach out to and persuade the youth voters who form the largest section of social media users,” Congress’ information technology cell president Amarjeet Singh said.

The saffron party’s creative team, on the other hand, circulated caustic caricatures, mocking the ‘corruption-ridden Congress government’ as well as projecting the promises made by BJP if voted to power. “Our social media teams remained busy with propagating content such as cartoons and memes generated by our creative teams,” BJP state social media in-charge Ravindra Dutt Petwal said.

Apart from these tricks, Congress also undertook a hashtag campaign titled ‘Dhol Ki Pol’, where it fired one question everyday at the opposition BJP. In response, BJP introduced a ‘Pol Khol’ campaign, which highlighted plight of the people under the Congress government. The national parties also hit out at each other over distribution of tickets.

In the process, both the parties gave social media users many moments to laugh. “If only these parties made so many efforts (as invested in creating spoofs) to develop ‘Devbhoomi’,” Shweta Nautiyal, a software engineer, said.

BOX:

Youth voters in Uttarakhand: 41.32 lakh

Age-wise youth voters:

18-19 years – 1.35 lakh

20-29 years – 20.67 lakh

30-39 years – 19.30 lakh

Total general voters: 75.12 lakh

Official FB and Twitter pages of BJP and Congress:

BJP: FB: 1, 41,199 likes; Twitter: 7,168 followers

Congress: FB: 44,223 likes; Twitter: 2,443 followers