With the cold and a vigilant Election Commission preventing parties going all out to woo voters ahead of the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, candidates in Agra are turning to social media and other ways to counter the model code of conduct and guidelines.
The battle lines are firmly drawn as the four major contenders in the fray have announced names of candidates, but the usual election mood is absent.
Meanwhile, the officials are alert and have been issuing notices to candidates and parties for any breach of electoral guidelines for the Feb 4-28 polls.
Hoardings have been removed and a notice was served a few days ago on Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria for waving green flag to take credit for the two minute halt of Shatabdi Express at Tundla junction, a long standing demand of Agra residents.
The Taj city is already under prohibitory orders till March 5, while the administration has fixed the number of vehicles each candidate would be allowed to use.
"The real fun of electioneering is missing and at every step, there is a fear (among the candidates). Without the usual celebratory mood and festivities associated with elections, its turning out to be a drab affair, one that calls for a high level of strategising and management of resources in a productive manner," says political activist Shravan Kumar Singh.
"No wonder we see increased role for computers and IT professionals who have been engaged by many candidates to use the various social media platforms for better effect," he added.
Almost all candidates have their Facebook pages. Rashtriya Lok Dal state president Hardev Singh, a former Provicial Service Service officer known for his honesty, contesting from Etmadpur, makes it a point to upload all his photos and reply to comments on his Facebook page every evening when he returns from campaigning.
Sumit Bibhav of the Congress and Samajwadi Party's Abhinav Sharma, both young and IT savvy, too have their Facebook presence.
But, it is not only the candidates that are using the social media.
The Taj city is also organising a huge jamboree of Facebook friends.
"This is the first time such an exercise is being held and I am told more than 800 have already registered. They will meet, discuss the role of social media platforms and have dinner. Indeed a very interesting and unusual initiative," said Puneet Pandey, IT professional.
As for ground politics, the campaigning is in its very early stage of planning and mobilising resources. The parties are finding it difficult to enlist workers, especially younger elements because of the examinations in early March.
"The rates this time for each volunteer on a daily basis are quoted Rs.1,000 plus other perks. They will call the shots as party loyalty doesn't work these days and since there is no wave this way or that, the candidates will face a very normal election which makes the going really tough.
"Add to this the Anna Impact. The villagers too are fielding uncomfortable questions. One can see the useful role that the mass media has played," says Hari Dutt Sharma, a school teacher and an activist.