While major political parties in the state seemed to have ignored age as a criterion while selecting candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, they have taken the battle to the cyberspace to woo young voters, who are expected to decide the fate of the candidates.
The parties are using social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, blogs, e-mails, official, video-sharing and other websites to reach and attract the attention of the Internet-savvy generation.
To mobilise support online, parties are putting in efforts to optimise the power of the medium to exchange ideas and opinions with young people.
For this, candidates have set up individual pages and accounts on social networking websites, while parties have also created pages to interact with the masses. Their official websites also provide links to the pages and accounts of the candidates.
While dedicated teams of tech-savvy have been deployed to maintain the pages, gadget-friendly leaders have taken charge of updating their own pages.
“It is a medium with greater reach at a low cost,” said Ravi Rana, in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Information Technology cell. He added that the immediate feedback helped the party candidate focus on the areas he was lagging behind in.
“We have built a strong base of volunteers through our online outreach. They are well-informed about the party policy and its activities,” said Rana, adding that a team of 1,500 IT professionals and volunteers were running the party’s social media campaign.
He added that daily debates and discussions were organised on a particular issue, as people, especially the youths, using the Internet had well-developed analytical powers.
On the bandwagon
Besides, senior politicians have taken to the social networking websites. Veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar, contesting from Kangra, joined Facebook and Twitter last month, while chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his MP wife Pratibha Singh became active online recently.
“The state has a sizable young population, which is using these platforms to interact, debate or to discuss various issues like development. When they hold the key to the new government, why not do it their way,” said Vikram, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
In HP, of the 47 lakh electorates, 62,133 are new voters, of which, more than 10 lakh are aged 20 to 29 years, more than 11.6 lakh are in age group 30 to 39 years, and more than 10 lakh are aged 40 to 49 years. They account for more than 69% of the total electorates.