HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

In Maharashtra, politicos beef up virtual presence for voter connect

Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 03, 2014
First Published: 23:43 IST(3/9/2014) | Last Updated: 14:57 IST(11/9/2014)

Following on the BJP’s footsteps, candidates from across parties fighting the Maharashtra assembly polls are turning to Facebook, twitter, etc. to reach out to voters.

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Among them is Amin Patel, Congress legislator from South Mumbai, for whom planning his social media calendar is as important as reading the newspaper. This involves giving instructions to his social media consultant about what tweets will go from his handle, topic of his blog, photos to be uploaded on his Facebook account, etc. 

Patel is just one of the many candidates for the 288 assembly seats in the state to take the social media seriously.  

Due to peak demand, social media consultants and public relations firms are offering packages to netas in the poll season. An average package can range anywhere between Rs. 1 to Rs. 15 lakh.

The BJP is planning a social media war room in every Maharashtra constituency. Plus, majority of its sitting legislators and ministers have hired social media consultants to ramp up their presence in the virtual world.

“Our entire social media campaign is revolving around ‘one click, one vote’ and we aim at setting up a social media war room in every constituency. WhatsApp has emerged as the perfect political tool in such areas,’’ said Jiten Gajaria, convenor of BJP’s social media cell.

The NCP has signed annual contracts with social media consultants to put up all party related events, speeches on Facebook pages and YouTube besides handling twitter accounts of some senior leaders.

“You have to have a social media presence. A photo circulated through WhatsApp, a tweet and Facebook posts can help you reach thousands of people, who may never read pamphlets or attend rallies,’’ said Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson.

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