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Candidates court GenNext online

Speeches on YouTube, pop-up ads online and ‘Vision Documents’ on Google Doc… everyone’s stepping it up a notch this election season, reports Naresh Kamath.

mumbai Updated: Oct 02, 2009 00:58 IST
Naresh Kamath

Speeches on YouTube, pop-up ads online and ‘Vision Documents’ on Google Doc… everyone’s stepping it up a notch this election season.

In Mumbadevi, popular Congress corporator and wannabe-MLA Amin Patel (46) has tied up with cyber cafes to make sure the young voters in the area know who he is and what he’s offering.

As of Thursday, every time a customer opens a new Internet window, a pop-up will appear offering details on Patel and links to his website.

“I am targeting Net-savvy youngsters, who form a large chunk of voters here,” says Patel, who has also tied with a private firm to send out bulk SMSes with inspirational quotes suggesting how he would transform the constituency.

Meanwhile, in Bandra West, Ashish Shelar (38) is using e-mail to, well, twitter.

He’s sending out e-mails two or three times a day, updating constituents on the status of his campaign. He’s also inviting voters to log on to Google Doc — an online spreadsheet application — and check out his ‘Vision Document’, which details his dream for the Bandra-Khar area.

And Shelar is planning a chat session with voters on rediff.com next week, where he promises to discuss the issues that concern them.

Even the Shiv Sena is stepping up, with Uddhav Thackeray uploading all campaign speeches onto the party’s YouTube channel. The party’s SMS campaign will continue. And there are plans to launch a telephonic campaign where the voice of Uddhav will urge true Mumbaiikars to vote Sena.

The NCP, meanwhile, has set special caller tunes on candidates’ cellphones. When you call, the jingle urges you to vote for the party that “upholds the ideals of leaders like Jyotiba Phule and Dr Ambedkar”.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has gone a step further, creating a giant replica of a steam engine that both toots and puffs, to help voters remember that they finally have the party symbol they had been hankering after for so long.

The model will travel across Dadar, the former Shiv Sena stronghold where the battle between the two parties is likely to be at its fiercest.

And MNS candidate from Sewri Promod (Appa) Patil, meanwhile, is using street plays to liven up his campaign. “Voters are no longer interested in boring speeches. These plays are entertaining and educational,” said Patil.

Political analyst Nilu Damle says such methods serve two aims: Creating name recognition and keeping a party or candidate in the news.

“There are many new, young voters this time, and it is necessary to find a way to relate to them,” Damle said. “New-age methods also help a candidate stand out from the crowd.”