The battleground for the 2014 elections has shifted to a new address: from street corners and massive gatherings to the Internet. With the 2014 Lok Sabha elections inching closer, apparent supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have taken the lead over the Congress by launching the sale of t-shirts and other election-campaigning memorabilia online to woo voters.
From the AAP’s symbolic Nehru cap to masks of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi that became popular during the Gujarat polls in 2007, a wide range of products — from t-shirts, mugs and wall clocks to laptop covers, coasters and posters — are being offered by online stores, making these purchases just a click away.
Modi, altogether, has online stores in his name, www.thenamostore.com and www.modimania.com. On the other hand, products inspired by AAP are being merchandised by www. bluegape.com and www.tradeus. com, which also sell Modi memorabilia.
The website www.thenamostore.com is run by a group of Modi supporters. A supporter who did not wish to be named said, "We wanted to give a physical form to the growing popularity of Modi, hence this portal."
Though officials of both the websites do not wish come on record, they claim that the websites are getting a good response, with t-shirts and mugs being the hot favourites. “I bought an AAP mug from www.bluegape.com. I am inspired by the party’s ideology so I bought it,” said Cherian Samuel, a Gurgaon-based follower of AAP.
A Modifan-based in Ahmedabad, Vipul, said, “I bought two Modi t-shirts when the portal www.namostore.com was launched in December. I plan to buy more as the t-shirts have been designed keeping in mind latest fashion. I specifically bought the t-shirts with Modiji’s quotes as I want to promote his principles.”
Though www.bluegape.com cannot design Modi products, it can manufacture and sell them.The profit from Modi products is donated to a non-government organisation, said an official of www.bluegape.com who did not wish to be named. Meanwhile, 20% share of the income from AAP products is used as party funds.
“We are also planning to launch silver coins engraved with Modi’s image and designed by a Gujarat-based website. We also plan to launch retail stores in major cities of the country,” said a member of the www. namestore.com team. Kunal, a Modi fan, said, “When I got to know about the online store through Facebook, I immediately searched for it online and bought two t-shirts. I plan to buy more as the products are designed keeping in mind the latest fashion trends.” Aashish Sharma, a Delhi-based chartered accountant, said, “I bought a t-shirt from bluegape.com as I have been supporting AAP since its launch.”
SOCIAL-MEDIA PLATFORMIn the social-media space, almost all parties are competing against each other. From the Congress to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and from AAP to BJP, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have started setting the tone for the general elections.
The social media is primarily being used for by-the-hour updates with the help of pictures and videos.
While the BJP, Congress and AAP happen to be the frontrunners in the social media, BSP too has a presence and is trying to leverage the social media to its advantage. On Facebook, Narendra Modi has more than 1-crore followers; Arvind Kejriwal has 43-lakh followers and Rahul Gandhi has 1.08-lakh followers.
On Youtube, 43,000 people have subscribed to the BJP’s channel, BJP4Indial 39,000 have subscribed to AAP’s official channel, and 4,069 to Congress’ official channel. On Twitter, Congress takes the lead with 1.08-lakh followers; BJP with 57,400 and AAP with 31,700 followers.
PROMOTION THROUGH APPS
Even when it comes to the promotion of a party through mobile phone applications (apps), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and AAP have got the lead by the launch of apps on Google Play Store. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, launched the ‘India272+’ app on January 1.
The app, available only on Android platform, lets people get involved in the BJP’s campaign for the general elections. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) official app, which is the party’s namesake, covers party news and videos from Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter; it also covers the party’s events, vision, agenda, FAQs and many more other things. To ensure followers don’t miss out on any party-related information, the app displays all updates of the past 24 hours from all available sources. Congress too is working on launching an official app soon.