The Congress can rightfully claim to have incubated India’s IT revolution in 1980s, but as general elections near it finds itself lagging in cyberspace with Internet websites of opposition parties such as the BJP sparkling with the latest from their leaders.
While the Left parties show off the latest information on their websites and even the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is constructing its own site, the Congress website opens with an outdated message, congratulating Sonia for leading the party to victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The latest speech of Sonia that the website – www.aicc.org.in – showcases is the one she delivered at a rally in Kochi on February 14, 2008.
On the other hand, www.bjp.org is updated daily.
India is slow in catching up in e-electioneering with the West, where for instance, the 17-month marathon for the Democratic nomination saw Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battle it out on cyberturf with dedicated websites to raise funds and as interactive platforms. In fact, Obama recently launched a “cyber war room” to repudiate charges of being a Muslim, unpatriotic and other slurs.
But Internet’s ability to communicate instantly is not appreciated by India’s grand old party. And the latest condolence message on the Congress site has its president expressing shock over the July 11, 2006 Mumbai blasts! Although the Karnataka Assembly elections have been fought and lost by the Congress, the website blissfully displays the list of candidates with no mention of their electoral fate.
The Congress launched its website in 2004 while the BJP did so in 1997-98. Since January this year, the English website of the Congress got 2,69,324 hits with 58,425 in May alone. The figure stands at 1,73,599 and 66,171 for its Hindi and Urdu versions respectively.
Vishvijit Prithvijit Singh, chairman, Congress computer cell dismisses any talk of neglect, saying his is the only party in the country with websites in three languages and an interactive site in the offing. “If at all there is any neglect, it is rectified immediately.” Quizzed about Sonia's oudated speeches on the site, Singh said a committee selects those addresses, which are important and of seminal interest.
BJP recently added L.K Advani's memoirs, ‘My Country My Life’ as a section on its site - with excerpts, reviews and a blog. “Ours was the first political party to launch a website. We take pride in having the most updated and informative site among all the political parties. We are now coming up with a new design for the site to ensure uniformity in information from state units,” said Nalin Kohli, BJP media convenor. The BJP website gets an average 41,500 hits every month.
The CPI(M) site has the latest updates. When party leader H.S. Surjeet got admitted in a hospital recently, the website immediately posted his profile.