Maharashtra Polls: Hi-tech BJP way ahead in online campaigning

October 9, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

ElectionsMumbai, October 7, 2014: Four months after achieving a historic win in the parliamentary elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is once again banking on its tried-and-tested campaign strategy for maximum gains ahead of the October 15 Maharashtra assembly elections.

A quick comparison with other major political parties in the fray shows that the BJP is proving to be much more organized party than ever before in its social media and online campaign outreach for the elections. It seems BJP, at large, is effectively using the e-way in reaching out to voters and common people in the state, especially targeting the youngsters.

Maharashtra is witnessing a five cornered election because all five major parties – BJP, INC, NCP, SS and MNS – are fighting on their own. All these parties are using traditional campaigning methods for convincing voters: rallies and mud-slinging & allegations against opposition parties being a prominent method. But BJP is simultaneously has gone big way to use traditional as well as modern technical methodology in its campaign.

On the one hand, it is organizing number of rallies addressed by star campaigner, including national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and on the other hand, is also carrying out a massive campaign using the Internet through its official website and social media interfaces mainly Facebook & Twitter.

Although all parties except Maharashtra unit of Indian National Congress (INC) have official websites for their parties, it is only the Maharashtra BJP website that is a complete and inclusive with detailing everything one needs to know.

One keeps searching on internet to find home page of Maharashtra Congress committee but the page does not exist, instead there is a detailed webpage for Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.NCP has its official site (http://www.ncp.org.in/) but has very limited information and other links. Only the Nashik district team of NCP is focusing on campaign through social media and has appointed teams of activists who are management and engineering graduates.

Same with Uddhav Thakare-led Shiv Sena (SS) web handle (http://shivsena.org/) that in addition to the limited party information runs Samna news ticker. Raj Thakare’s Maharashtra NavNirman Sena (MNS) has a silent web page (https://www.manase.org/) with only a side photo of Chatrapati Shivaji without any links.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is making a debut in this assembly election, has a dedicated Facebook account but the party has no registered web domain till now in English where one can easily find about the office bearers and candidates for the assembly election.

The Maharashtra BJP’s cutting edge campaign includes regular updates on its website and social media handles. The wide-ranging and comprehensive website http://www.mahabjp.org/ is where a visitor can find everything he needs to know about the party. Apart from regularly detailing about rallies held by its leaders in different parts of the state, a column is dedicated to its social media handles of Tweeter and Face book.

And the numbers tell it all. As on Wednesday 7.30 pm, the @MahaBJP twitter handle has 18.8K followers while the BJP’s FB page has 138,341 ‘likes’. Shiv Sena has 9044 followers of its Twitter handle while its FB page is liked by 12,469 people.

@NCPSpeaks twitter handle has 45.1K followers (number is large possibly because it does not have a state-specific handle) but has just 4163 ‘likes’ for the FB page. INC Maharashtra has 450 followers on Twitter and MahaPradeshCongress FB page has 24,893 likes. The MNS has a meager 2643 followers for its @MNSadhikrut handle.

It is very clear that Shiv Sena is still holding on to its customary methods of campaigning and not paying much attention towards social media. This is the reason that it is hiring maximum vehicles for campaigning. For instance, in Nashik district Shiv Sena has sought permission from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to display party advertisements on 38 vehicles. Compared to it, MNS has sought permission to display advertisements for the party and its candidates for 25 vehicles, Congress for 19 and the BJP only for 18 vehicles.

M.W. Shaikh, a software professional from Mumbai told TwoCircles.net, “In today’s tech savvy world social media is the best way of reaching out to voters and convey their manifesto. I could see that only BJP is coping up with the technological changes and is effectively using it for (its) benefits. I found only BJP website fully functional, Maharashtra Congress does not even have its web address”.

– tcn

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