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Digital democracy: who is winning war for votes on Twitter

india Updated: May 15, 2014 02:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Lok Sabha elections

The Indian voter is on fire these days, powering the surging turnout in what is being touted as the first truly digital elections of the world’s largest democracy.

The action in the Lok Sabha elections is on the ground and in polling booths, but many a battle line is being drawn in the digital space, much of it on Twitter.

The 140-character social media platform is seeing heated debates, sharing and churning of political opinions.

The buzz is loud and the takeaway clear — this is a pocket of influence. Millions of voters are on Twitter, as are parties and top leaders.

Going where voters are
India has the third largest internet user base globally — more than 238 million, a bulk of them youngsters. Of the total internet users, more than 100 million are active on social media. What’s more, 23 million-plus voters are in the 18-19 age group.

Since the start of 2014, Twitter has tracked the level of interest around parties and the big three names — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.

This time lapse map conveys the swinging interest levels around Arvind Kejriwal/AAP, Narendra Modi/BJP and Rahul Gandhi/Congress and who is talking about them where. The popping riot of colours is surreal, somewhat like what Diwali might look like if you had a vantage point suspended in space. Hit pause to catch your breath and play to move on.

Here is the lowdown on the frenetic political activity on the site.

When and why activity surged:
Jan 21 — Arvind Kejriwal calls off dharna after hitting the streets for control over Delhi Police (see embed 2)
Mar 6 — Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi taken by police for questioning after they were accused of instigating violence outside BJP headquarters

March 5 — Election dates announced; clash with AAP (triggered by Kejriwal’s detention in Gujarat)
March 23 — Entry and quick exit of Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik
April 7 — Manifesto released; start of elections

March 26 — Manifesto released

When and why activity surged:
Arvind Kejriwal
Jan 21 — Calls off dharna
Feb 14 — Resigns as Delhi chief minister
March 7 — Gujarat visit

Narendra Modi
March 26 — First of his 185 ‘Bharat Vijay’ rallies

Rahul Gandhi
Jan 27 — After interview to TV news channel

Tata Tea’s Anthem of apathy
Partnered feature