Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday held the first “Facebook Talks Live” — a version of which Barack Obama used in April 2011 — to connect with voters across the country, making a feverish national pitch for his party ahead of a general election.
Kejriwal quintessentially repeated much what is already known about his plans, barring one – he hasn’t made up his mind on contesting the Lok Sabha polls yet. “Not sure,” he told journalist Madhu Trehan, who moderated the session.
Embracing readily a social-media platform BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi had turned down, Kejriwal began by taking a jibe at Modi, asking his host why Modi opted out of the event.
Kejriwal answered questions on some hot-button national issues, coming across pretty much the staunchly left-leaning politician he is. “We are against contract labour for jobs of a permanent nature,” Kejriwal said. Not the kind of labour-market reform industry is carving.
To get going, he mixed his sombre gyan with a shot of humour: if people wanted more work out of him, they should give him more than 28 seats.
On Kashmir, the AAP leader said: “Kashmir is an integral part of India. That means Kashmiris are also an integral part. We have to win their hearts.” He backed the special status of Kashmir and said India should not indefinitely have military presence in the state.
Touching upon another prickly issue, Kejriwal said customary practices of all religions should be respected, but they should violate “fundamental rights”. He also backed reservation in principle. The season one of “Candidates 2014 on Facebook Talks Live”, which kicked off with the Kejriwal show, will run till Saturday, featuring UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Yadav.
Facebook also launched an election tracker dashboard (http://on.fb.me/1g6ZJ3k) to help India’s 93 million Facebook users to see which parties and candidates are trending.
India’s 2014 ballot battle is set to also run through the social-media world, which will likely influence voting in 160 of the 543 Parliament seats, making Facebook and Twitter users the nation’s newest voting bloc, according to two recent surveys.