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BJP, Congress pull out all stops on social media to woo voters in Rajasthan

The information technology (IT) cells of the BJP and Congress have set daily targets for social media posts to take on each other and showcase their promises for voters.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Nov 02, 2018 10:04 IST
Jaykishan Sharma
Jaykishan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Congress,BJP,Social media
Booth-level workers of both the parties in Rajasthan have been directed to release posts on hyperlocal issues daily to keep voters engaged.(AFP File Photo)

The ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in Rajasthan and the Opposition Congress are making maximum use of social media to reach out to voters in the state ahead of the assembly elections to be held on December 7. The BJP has deployed around 150,000 volunteers and the Congress nearly 100,000 at booth levels to take on each other in cyber space, according to leaders of the two parties.

“Now social media influences youngsters more than anything,” said Bhanwar Meghwanshi, a Jaipur-based social scientist who has worked on digital platforms in Rajasthan for over a decade. “Young voters form their opinion not based on conventional media but on basis of what appears on social media. That’s why all parties are running campaigns on social media.”

The information technology (IT) cells of the two parties have set daily targets for social media posts to take on each other and showcase their promises for voters. Even booth-level workers have been directed to release posts on hyperlocal issues daily to keep voters engaged. “We have war room from the state to the booth level and we have engaged around 1.5 lakh volunteers,” said Mayank Jain, Rajasthan co-convener of the BJP’s IT cell.

The Congress, though a late starter on social media, is trying to catch up. “We are working effectively to propagate the message of the party and counter the false narratives and lies spread by BJP,” said Danish Abrar, head of Rajasthan Congress IT cell.

A Congress IT cell member, who didn’t want to be named, said the party has appointed district coordinators who are helped by the social media election committee. “We have also appointed assembly coordinators which are supported by a minimum of two volunteers of each booth in a constituency .” The BJP and the Congress have ensured that there is a social media expert at every booth. Every morning they get the draft of the message to be made viral. In the evening, they are required to submit a report informing the impact. While structure for dissemination of messages on social media of the two parties is similar, the BJP’s is more decentralised. The ruling party has 41 each official Facebook pages and Twitter handles. The Congress has 34 Facebook pages and eight Twitter handles. The BJP has thrice the number of Twitter followers as compared to the Congress but on Facebook the grand old party is catching up. The Congress has 7.10 lakh followers on Facebook compared to 7.46 of the BJP.

The Congress strategy is simple — attack the BJP and project their plan for Rajasthan. The party will get live sessions of senior leaders, such as Rajasthan chief Sachin Pilot, and make them call voters through a pre-recorded message.

The BJP is working on several fronts— countering the Congress attack, projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Vasundhara Raje, releasing pictures of beneficiaries of schemes. The party will also launch 15 hashtags that will cover issues of youth employment, women empowerment, farmer distress and manifesto of the party. “We are running a hashtag kesariya Rajasthan to showcase the good work done by the present government,” a BJP IT cell volunteer said.

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 07:25 IST