Stalwarts try to shed ‘outsider’ tag with cyber war | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Stalwarts try to shed ‘outsider’ tag with cyber war

As they clash for the prestigious Amritsar seat, stalwarts Arun Jaitley of the BJP and Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress are trying to shed the “outsider” tag not just on the battleground but also through a raging virtual war. With Amritsar boasting of nearly 4.4 lakh active Facebook users, the cyber teams of both the leaders are vying for more likes and comments on the social networking site to beat the poll rival in the cyber war.

punjab Updated: Apr 18, 2014 09:18 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur

As they clash for the prestigious Amritsar seat, stalwarts Arun Jaitley of the BJP and Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress are trying to shed the “outsider” tag not just on the battleground but also through a raging virtual war. With Amritsar boasting of nearly 4.4 lakh active Facebook users, the cyber teams of both the leaders are vying for more likes and comments on the social networking site to beat the poll rival in the cyber war.


The BJP media centre contends that Jaitley’s national stature is underlined as the number of likes on his official Facebook page (Arun Jaitley) is hovering around the 7-lakh mark as against Amarinder’s 1.25 lakh (Amarinder Singh). The total number of people talking about Jaitley as on Thursday (5 pm) was 84,349 against 37,123 for Amarinder. But the erstwhile Patiala royal’s cyber team of Gurgoan professionals camping in Amritsar claims the Captain is more popular in the constituency that matters.

Referring to the page insights section of Facebook, they say it cites Amritsar as the most popular city for Amarinder’s Facebook page. The same section in Jaitley’s official page lists Delhi as the most popular city. “Had even 10% of Jaitley’s nearly 7 lakh likes been from Amritsar, Facebook would have listed Amritsar in the list of most popular cities for Jaitley along with Delhi. Nearly 43% of the 1.25 lakh following of Amarinder is from Amritsar,” says Karampreet Singh, an IT professional in the Captain’s cyber team.

The BJP has started ‘Arun Jaitley for Amritsar’ page on Facebook to claim his popularity among Amritsaris. Interestingly, the graph of the page shows it was started on March 12, two days after Punjab BJP minister Anil Joshi openly opposed MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s candidature at a press conference and invited Jaitley to contest from the seat. The “about” section of this page has links to the official blog of Jaitley, his Facebook page and Twitter handle.

What has raised the hackles of the Congress is the steep jump in likes on ‘Arun Jaitley for Amritsar’ page in the last two weeks after witnessing a fall till April 4. The likes on this page shot up from 43,000 (at 5 pm) on Wednesday to nearly 52,000 on Thursday (5 pm), a jump of around 9,000 likes within 24 hours after this reporter sought details from the BJP media centre. The number of people talking about ‘Arun Jaitley for Amritsar’ page also jumped from 30,819 on Wednesday to over 37,000 on Thursday, almost on par with those talking about Amarinder’s Facebook page.

Accusing the BJP of buying likes, the Captain’s team claims the likes on ‘Arun Jaitley for Amritsar’ page are commercial and not organic. “Our likes are increasing gradually. For Amritsar’s FB penetration, genuine ‘likes’ cannot go beyond 1,500 a day. The most important parameter of popularity is engagement of fans with the leader. Those commenting, sharing or liking the posts of Amarinder are much higher and there is no junk on his page unlike on Jaitley’s,” claims Karampreet.

The BJP media centre rubbishes the claim that likes are being bought. “Jaitley is popular both nationally and in Amritsar. His followers in the constituency are growing by leaps and bounds as Jaitley is hitting the Captain with proof on issues that matter in the city -- from infrastructure to property tax. We started ‘Arun Jaitley from Amritsar’ page but the Congress is still continuing with the same FB page of Amarinder as it knows it has no fan following among Amritsar’s young voters,” Subodh Verma of the BJP media centre said.