On February 28 this year, 70-year-old Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena’s candidate for Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat, posted his first tweet to announce his candidature.
Since then, he has been tweeting regularly. Most of his tweets are in Marathi, save a few in English.
While candidates such as Milind Deora, Priya Dutt, Poonam Mahajan have always been active on Twitter, several other Lok Sabha candidates from Mumbai have jumped onto the bandwagon. With many of them being fairly new to the idea of reaching out using Twitter, they have developed their own unique style.
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Kirtikar, who has set up a social media cell to manage his posts on Facebook and Twitter, says, “In so many years of my political life, I have never done this. I have always believed in physical interaction, but we have to adapt to the changing times. We recently realised that we might be alienating non-Marathi speaking voters by tweeting in Marathi and we are trying to correct that now.”
Gopal Shetty, BJP candidate from Mumbai North, also entered Twitter only after the election campaign kicked off. His timeline begins on March 3 with an inaugural post, “Hello tweeters..” In his 20-odd posts since then, he has hardly tweeted, mostly retweeting posts from Narendra Modi, pictures put up by others of his campaign in Mumbai North and messages showing solidarity with him.
Although not new to Twitter, Congress’s Sanjay Nirupam, sitting MP from Mumbai North, has developed a new tweeting trait since he filed his nomination for re-election. He almost always uses a ‘SupportNirupam’ hashtag with his tweets.
Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena’s candidate from Mumbai South, first tweeted on February 22. Since then, he has become an avid tweeter with 303 tweets in two months, matching his rival Congress rival Milind Deora. Sawant’s characteristic style is to put out at least one tweet a day with a hashtag ‘Voteforchange.’ The tweet is either a strong sweeping statement about the system or a statement about himself and his election promises. One of his many such tweets says, “I am willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”
“Some go on harping on social media platforms. At some point of time, people are going to find it nauseating. Twitter is a good medium to put forth one’s views and cannot be ignored, but it is a better tool to use after a candidate is elected rather than for propaganda and campaigning,” Sawant says.
Aditya Shirodkar, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s candidate from Mumbai South Central, has since March used the platform extensively for urging people for a better voter turnout. His first tweet was a poster that he had used in his early days of physical campaigning to woo first-time voters. It said, “You and I, we both love ‘firsts,’ don’t we? First interview, first bike, first award, first love-letter, first date. But no other first can match this one. Your first opportunity to vote at the 16th Lok Sabha election.”