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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

BJP to use ‘digital war rooms’ again in polls

Saurav Roy, Hindustan Times  Ranchi, August 07, 2014
First Published: 01:14 IST(7/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:16 IST(7/8/2014)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to set up “digital war rooms” in four states heading for assembly elections to spread its message on social media, a strategy that helped it pull off a spectacular win in the general election this summer.

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Information technology professionals will work 24x7 in the capitals of Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and Maharashtra to promote the BJP’s agenda and track voting trends through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Android messaging applications.

“A team will keep tabs on happenings across the concerned state from a war room and release materials for social media accordingly,” said Raman Malik, national co-convener of the BJP’s communication cell.

The concept of a digital war room was devised by about 40 social media strategists who were a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha poll campaign team. They will now visit the four poll-bound states to set up similar war rooms and recruit about 10 members for each team.

The teams will use both Hindi and English in their posts to widen their audience.

The ‘Abki baar, Modi Sarkar’ catchphrase that became the BJP’s war cry in the parliamentary polls was the brainchild of SpiceJet co-founder Ajay Singh, who was in the party’s social media strategy team. Its members were under-40 professionals who had studied in the world’s top universities and left lucrative jobs.

Politicians across the world have been tapping social media to reach out to voters since US President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, seen as a demonstration of the power of the net in election campaigns.

But some analysts warn of the risks involved in the system.

“India has around 150 million internauts (internet veterans) wired to social networking sites. The team should be cautious as one mistake can lead to incorrect or sensitive information going viral,” Prakhar Prasad, a guest lecturer at IIT Kharagpur and NIT Durgapur.


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