When hundreds of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members in Delhi work on the ground for the municipal election on April 23, 18 young technology enthusiasts manage the back-end at the party’s headquarters on Pandit Pant Marg.
In one go, they reach out to about 1.5 lakh booth and block-level workers through social media and WhatsApp groups to keep them informed about the issues in different wards.
They are part of the social media team of the state unit of the party that works for over 12 hours every day.
Apart from creating digital campaigns and putting live updates of rallies or political events online, the team has the responsibility to identify issues in every ward and inform party candidates about them. The feedback and suggestions received through them are later included in the party’s campaign strategy.
“Our social media volunteers are students, engineers, graphic designers, and people with social media expertise. The team, which sits at the party headquarters, remains in touch with more than 350 workers in all 272 wards,” said Delhi BJP’s IT cell convener, Sumit Bhasin.
The cell has appointed heads in each ward and one coordinator for five assembly constituencies, who run campaigns, initiated by it though 500 WhatApp groups. Bhasin said the party has synchronised its online campaign with offline mode for the first time for the municipal elections.
“They took the campaign further and try to connect with maximum number of people. They go to parks, markets, playgrounds, and households, where they talk to senior citizens, shopkeepers, housewives, and students. They show them graphics, video-audio clips, or messages received through social media. They also enquire about their problems and issues and send their feedbacks to us, which are incorporated in our candidates’ canvassing plans,” Bhasin said.
The volunteers are equipped with an app, VMS (volunteer management system), which has all the details such as streets and residential units in all 272 municipal wards. Through this system, which uses Google Maps, the party can track areas being covered by the volunteers and candidates.
“In the last 25 days, 22 hashtags prepared by the team were trending nationally. Earlier, it used to take a lot of time but we have developed such a network that our hashtags start trending within half an hour. They remain on top of the chart for 10-12 hours,” said Kunal Kapur, a member of the Delhi BJP social media team.
Unlike, BJP, the social media campaign of its rival — Delhi Congress — is not centralised. It functions from three locations in south and west Delhi round-the-clock. Around 15-20 volunteers work in three shifts.
Aniruddh Sharma, who heads the IT cell of Delhi Congress, earlier said that the entire system was centralised at party headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg but it has been decentralised for effective functioning.
The preparations had begun around 18 months ago when Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken appointed about 150 volunteers for it, said Sharma.
“We have a dedicated team of 50-60 graphic designers and video editors and 80 volunteers, who work on research and push content on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. The cell is more active during prime time which starts around 5pm,” said Sharma.
The party has officially appointed a convener for all seven parliamentary constituencies who look after its campaign at booth level. “We don’t indulge in abusive and fake posts. It is a clear direction from Maken and head of communication Sharmishtha Mukherjee not to create any derogatory or sham content. All creatives are positive contents,” he added.
According to him, they manage to reach out to about 10 lakh people in a week using various social media platforms such Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.