Incomplete information, inadequate linkages, missing website features – political parties barely exploited digital media to its fullest potential in the recently-concluded Assembly elections, a recent study has found.
Although parties claim to have set aside a large chunk of their resources for social media and claim to be active digitally, a Mumbai university study has revealed this is hardly the case. In fact, the presence in many cases is laughable, the analysis claims.
The Congress, Shiv Sena and the MNS each scored an F grade, the lowest in a scale designed to assess performance online. The BJP, widely seen as the most digitally advanced party, managed just a B, the same grade awarded to the NCP.
The overall grade was arrived at after the parties were assessed on three broad parameters – webpage, top-down information and communication. The analysts based their research on data collected a week before the October 15 polls, and restricted themselves to state websites of the national parties and main websites of the regional parties.
“The results were utterly disappointing,” said Kannamma Raman, an associate professor in the varsity’s political science department, who conducted the study with her PhD student Ashwin Parthasarathy. “Parties are just not doing enough. Even the bare minimum is missing,” she said.
According to the preliminary analysis of their findings, the performance of the parties in the virtual space was fundamentally deficient in many ways.
For instance, the BJP Maharashtra page was neither linked to the main page, nor to the page for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The MNS has not posted any speech on its website since 2009.
Only the MNS and the NCP had search engine options on their respective websites. The Congress party’s website has none of the party’s recent press releases.
Maharashtra has the highest number of internet users in the country, at 38.78 million. “The massive online presence may not translate to direct votes. But if the idea is to spread the message, the parties have miles to go before they can catch up with parties in western democracies like the UK and the US,” said Raman.