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Like it or not, Raje and Gehlot face big battle on social media

Sachin Saini, Hindustan Times  Jaipur, October 06, 2013
First Published: 15:51 IST(6/10/2013) | Last Updated: 18:40 IST(6/10/2013)

Ahead of the real electoral battle on December 4, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is facing another stiff challenge from his arch-rival and state BJP chief Vasundhara Raje on the social media.

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While social media provides politicians an additional platform to campaign, the real competition here is who gets the maximum hits. According to sources in the Congress and BJP, the official Facebook page of Raje has more than four lakh “likes”, while around two lakh users have “liked” Gehlot on the popular social networking site.

The Congress and BJP are aggressively using the new technology, mainly Facebook and Twitter, to woo more and voters.

The latest addition on Raje’s official Facebook page is the ‘I believe’ application launched by the state BJP, asking voters to share their opinion besides requirements and expectations from the next government. To attract more participation, the party has also announced to give “special recognition” to Facebook users on the page and a VR fan kit as a token of appreciation every week.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/ashokgehlot_vasundraraje.jpg

Sources in the BJP claim that apart from the application, another programme -- VR fan, a volunteer-based campaign -- would be launched soon. According to the campaign, individuals registering with it will be asked to rope in 10 more volunteers to get a silver membership. If they pledge to come out and vote, they will be given a platinum status. The selected few will also get to meet Raje. To make it more interesting, a 40-word slogan competition related to development of Rajasthan and dedicating a song for the same will also be rewarded. The winner will get a VR kit comprising stickers, posters and bags etc.

State BJP media cell in-charge Vimal Katiyar said social media is the best way to connect with people on the constant move. “It is not just a medium, but the easiest way to get your voice heard. The medium may not prove to be a complete game changer in the coming polls, but would certainly become a major tool to educate people and ask them to come out and vote. “More than four lakh Facebook users have “liked” the Raje page, of which 60% belong to the age group of 18-30 years,” he added.
 
Closely following the updates, the Congress on the other hand, too, is all set to launch an application on Whatsapp and Facebook to connect with the voters and party workers. Besides, the AICC has also prepared a portal – Khidki -- for Congress members at the state and central level to log on to for updates on party activities. Soon, the registration will include grassroots workers as well.

The ruling party in the state has also set up a communication centre with a special team to research on social media besides monitoring news. Sources said using the technology, the Congress in Rajasthan would soon start screening videos related to government programmes and schemes across villages on mega screens.

“The new generation, especially in urban areas, is very active on social media. Every political party wants to make the people aware of its policies, principals, and vision. This is a very effective medium,” said Neeraj Dangi, general secretary in-charge of Congress communication centre. He added that the medium will not be a game changer, but will help propagate the party’s idea among youth in a big way.

“More than two lakh people, mostly in the age group of 18-24 years, have “liked” the Gehlot page on Facebook,” he claimed.

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