With elections round the corner,many candidates have started their election campaigns informally. This time some of the tech-savvy politicians have already started using SMSes to reach the public and party workers.
The late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was known for using modern means of communication to reach the masses.
The BJP had sent SMSes in bulk to voters during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Now,political leaders are sending such SMSes from their personal mobile phones.
The leaders,who are known to use this system for communicating with the mediapersons and party workers,include former petroleum minister Ram Naik,former Lok Sabha MP Kirit Somaiya and former Shiv Sena MP and Congress man Sanjay Nirupam.
Both Naik and Somaiya are strong BJP contenders from north Mumbai and north-east Mumbai Lok Sabha constituencies. North-west Mumbai constituency is Nirupams stronghold and he would be competing with sitting M P Priya Dutt for the party ticket.
According to Sanjay Bhatia,owner of the Rudra Entertainment and Communications,many companies in communication business buy SMSes from different telecom service providers. These companies,in turn,sell these SMSes to interested parties,which comprise political leaders and corporate companies that want to promote their products. During the election,the demand for such services are on the rise.
Says Somaiya,We have a bank of categories that include political workers,mediapersons and several other categories. It is cheap,fast and innovative and I can personally send 5000 SMSes to my active party workers in my constituency for just Rs 500 and in less than three seconds. Also,since the messages are sent with the help of internet,it is does not keep my phone busy, he says.
It is quite a hassle-free method of communicating with people on a large scale as most of the people these days own mobile phones, says Vishakha Kulkarni,Ram Naiks daughter,who also helps him in his political assignments. When the receiver gets the SMS,it will have the name of the sender (leaders) also, she says. Another leader who uses this service says,It is the best way to conceal your phone number and at the same time you can communicate with your party workers also.
The telecom company officials,meanwhile,refused to come on record for obvious reasons. We cannot send SMSes directly to people because of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)s strict norms. If a single SMS goes to any of the Do not Disturb (DND) category customers,we will be fined. So,mobile phone service providers refrain from it and only do the job of delivering the SMS, says a senior official of a telecom company on condition of anonymity.