BJP rules social media as rivals try to catch up

  • Saubhadra Chatterji and Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 16, 2015 09:50 IST

Last week, when digital media was abuzz with the hashtag #despitebeingawoman to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegedly sexist remarks in Dhaka, the BJP didn’t wait for press conferences or TV bytes. Instead, its well-oiled cyber machinery launched #ModiEmpowersWomen which quickly topped the trends.

As more parties join the digital media with an eye on young voters, Modi and the BJP are far ahead of rivals in the sprawling new social sphere that played a key role in the party’s resounding poll victories.

With rival Congress still scrambling to find a foothold on Twitter and Facebook, Modi has spread his campaign to platforms like Instagram, Linkedin and Tumblr.

Hiren Joshi, who earlier managed Modi’s campaign in Gujarat, now leads the PM’s digital media team. The group, comprising only 50-60 young people, has offices at both South Block and 7, Race Course Road, said sources.

The PM’s handle @narendramodi has picked up an average of 21,830 followers daily in the past three months, with a global popularity ranking of 81. “The PM takes a lot of interest in the digital campaign. He is also given regular feedbacks on the digital outreach,” said a senior official.

Unlike the Congress that banked on party sympathisers, the BJP had outsourced a large part of its campaign to professionals like Apco. In contrast, despite several makeovers, the Congress’ initiative remains a low-key affair that seems to be content with just promoting party activities and speeches by leaders.

The Congress digital team operates from Gurdwara Rakabganj Road with former journalist Rahul Pande heading operations while Randeep Singh Surjewala is the overall in-charge.

Though the Congress is the second-largest party in the Lok Sabha, it is the two-year-old AAP, and its leader Arvind Kejriwal, that is Modi’s biggest rival on social media.

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