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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

BJP dominates virtual ground while Congress plays catch up

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times   April 21, 2013
First Published: 02:16 IST(21/4/2013) | Last Updated: 03:16 IST(21/4/2013)

Last month, at a seminar in Delhi, Stephanie Cutter, US President Obama's deputy campaign manager in the 2012 re-election, said: "Use of social media in Indian politics is still at an infant stage." Members of Team Rahul Gandhi later met her to learn the tricks of this fast developing e-game of politics.

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Long before Team Anna forced Congress in 2011 to shed its sloth and join the cyber-bandwagon, BJP was dominating that turf. Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, is one of the most active politicians on social media, managing his accounts via professional agencies like APCO.

Cutter felt Indian politicians are now at a stage where US was nearly a decade ago. "It seems politicians are just realising the value of this tool here," she said.

BJP's IT cells have been managing social media pretty well. Now Congress has responded with a panel - including general secretary Digvijaya Singh and Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda - for quick rebuttals. The All India Congress Committee's Facebook account is pro-active while Youth Congress (YC) mouthpiece Yuvadesh is on Twitter. An in-house site Khidkee.com was upgraded to an open discussion forum for Congress sympathisers. New visiting cards of YC functionaries now sport only mobile numbers and email ids. All AICC members also had to submit their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube identities last January for their bio-data; and ministers like P Chidambaram and CP Joshi held Google+ Hangout sessions to reach out to the aam aadmi. But not before Modi became the third politician globally, after Obama and the Australian PM, to host a political conference on Google+ Hangout.

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