A Twitter battle broke out between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) just before the AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister was to speak at Moga, releasing the poll manifesto for farmers.
AAP supporters had planned to go it big on the social media, planning to use the hashtag #HopeForPunjabKejriwal since 6.30am. The hashtag was on the 3rd and 4th position in the national trending list of Twitter since 11am.
The SAD, which had recently completely revamped its social media team, got into the game at around that time with the hashtag #Sukhbir4Farmers and overtook AAP’s rail of tweets.
The SAD has set up a glitzy social media war room in Chandigarh and has managed to trend the party and its leaders at the top slot several times in the past few months.
The AAP social media team worked on projecting the content of the farmer’s manifesto, the SAD team was busy rolling out tweets of what the Punjab government had already done for farmers.
When an AAP supporter said that the party will bring back the Sir Chhotu Ram Act to manage the farm loans given by moneylenders or arhtiyas, the SAD team tweeted the provisions of the recently passed Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act that has most of the provisions of the Sir Chhotu Ram Act. Similarly, when the AAP team highlighted that if it came to power, it will provide free electricity to farmers using motors, the SAD team tweeted that electricity use was already free for farmers in Punjab.
The SAD team played a one-minute video on what the government had done for farmers. The official Twitter handles of the Shiromani Akali Dal joined in sending out pictures and data of farmer schemes, irrigation facilities, health insurance scheme for farmers etc.
The AAP team, however, got its act together by the evening. They shifted the focus of their tweets from what was contained in the manifesto to the rally itself where a huge crowd had gathered for the event. After the manifesto was unveiled and its leaders were making fiery speeches at the rally, a new tag line was created: Punjab AAP De Naal (Punjab is with AAP) and within hours, it reached the top slot on the national trending list.
The strength of the rally had reached the peak in the evening with people who had reached late standing outside the covered shed. Twitter was flooded with pictures of the crowds at the rally. The crowd was projected to show that the party had found its lost groove and was back in the game ahead of the high stakes elections in the state.
On a picture of the crowd at the rally, AAP’s Ankit Lal tweeted: In face of those who were saying that #AAP wave is waning down. Punjab AAP de Naal. Accept it or live in denial. The party MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann tweeted that the crowd was over 3 lakh.
The party’s national organisation building in-charge Durgesh Pathak who was not in the rally congratulated the team which had made the rally a success. In response, his colleague Krishan Partap Singh tweeted: Well done, bro, you had a real tough time recently but have come through it showing grace under pressure. Keep going.
Durgesh Pathak style of functioning in Punjab had come in for a severe criticism, especially after the party sacked its convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
By the evening with other news picking up, it came down on the trending list to the fifth position while #Sukhbir4farmers was not on the list at all.