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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Digital democracy: Twitter battle for votes intensified during nine-phased polling

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 14, 2014
First Published: 19:59 IST(14/5/2014) | Last Updated: 02:34 IST(15/5/2014)

When was the last time Twitter trends were devoid of election colour? A long-time ago.

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Twitter was always engulfed in the raging war for votes but as May 12 - the final day of polling - came closer, the activity surged significantly. A whooping 56 million elections-related Tweets were posted in 2014 with a total reach of 267 billion.

Considering the country has seen the highest turnout since independence, it's not a surprise that Indian voters have taken to the 140-character social media platform with a passion.

They are tweeting and are at their active best - giving opinions, being vocal about political preferences and unabashedly indulging in political arguments.

Where's the voters' Twitter base?

India has the third largest internet user base globally — more than 238 million people, a bulk of them youngsters. Of the total users, more than 100 million are active on social media and of them 23 million and more lie in the 18-19 age group.

Since the very beginning of 2014, Twitter has tracked the level of interest around parties and the big three — Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.

So where is it that these candidates and political parties are mentioned the most? Take a look:

 

This time lapse map conveys the swinging interest levels around Kejriwal, Modi and Gandhi and who is talking about them where.

The popping riot of colours is surreal, somewhat like what Diwali might look like if you had a vantage point suspended in space. Hit the pause button to catch your breath and play to move on.

The attention, as can be seen, has been so sharp that even parties and many politicians have found their way to Twitter. Take a look at these follower growth stats since the start of the year (Jan 1) to the end of the polls (May 12) for the political bigwigs:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/5/Rahul-Gandhi-Popup.jpg

It's safe to say that the political action may be on the ground - in constituencies and polling booths - but the pocket of influence here is making its voice heard loud and clear.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has been at the helm of attention with close to 11.1 million mentions on Twitter (20% of all elections-related Tweets). Interestingly, the Arvind-Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party has trumped other parties 8.2 million mentions to its name. With 15% of all elections-related Tweets, the party has grabbed the second spot in the list of top 10 elections-related terms in 2014.

Take a look at the rest of the terms:

3. BJP = 6 million (11% of all elections-related Tweets)

4. Arvind Kejriwal = 5 million (9% of all elections-related Tweets)

5. INC = 2.7 million (5% of all elections-related Tweets)

6. Rahul Gandhi = 1.3 million (2% of all elections-related Tweets)

7. Election 2014 = 1.1 million

8. Varanasi = 941k

9. Amethi = 573k

10. Lok Sabha = 571k


Which party won Twitter?

When and why activity surged:

Bhartiya Janata Party

April 7 - Party releases its election manifesto after much delay

May 8 - BJP leaders stage dharna against EC's after it refused permission to Modi's rally in Varanasi and Delhi

Aam Aadmi Party

April 10 - Party releases Mumbai poll manifesto, says will decriminalise gay sex

May 12 - Varanasi finally goes to polls, seals fate of Arvind Kejriwal versus Modi

Congress

April 9 - Rahul Gandhi says Modi will cut the country into pieces

May 12 - Exit polls project a dismal performance for the party


Who's Twitter's chosen one?

When and why activity surged:

Narendra Modi

May 8 - Addresses rally on outskirts of Varanasi after EC denied permission to his rally

April 30 - FIR lodged against him for flashing election symbol

Rahul Gandhi

April 12 - Files his nomination papers from family bastion of Amethi

May 10 - Holds a tit-for-tat roadshow in Varanasi after Modi's rally in Amethi

Arvind Kejriwal

April 8 - Gets slapped by an auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi

May 9 - Holds a roadshow in Varanasi


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