With all political parties and aspiring candidates focusing on social networking sites to campaign for the forthcoming civic polls, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) election department is in a fix, as it tries to track the campaigns on the internet. The department has now sought help from experts, including those from the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
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“This is a new experience for the election department … it is trying to evolve a system to keep a tab on the election campaign through social networking sites,” said Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar.
He said the PMC election department would hold discussions with cyber experts to find ways to keep an eye on how candidates and political parties were using social networking sites during the election campaign. “The PMC would include representatives of the NIC in the committee, which will be set up to ensure effective implementation of the election code of conduct, to ensure free and fair elections,” said Kumar.
Recently, while releasing the election manifesto of the NCP, former deputy chief minister and senior party leader Ajit Pawar had said that the “real campaign” in this election would be waged via social networking sites. “The focus would be on the use of these sites during the election campaign,” he said.
Many political leaders, and aspirants for party tickets, have already recruited experts to manage their social media sites, in an attempt to reach out to the maximum number of voters. “The use of mobile internet has become common among people… They use social networking sites regularly and it has provided us with a platform to reach out to voters with ease… to impress the voters, we have enlisted professionals in the field to help us out,” said a candidate who is seeking a MNS ticket.
Ramesh Iyer, Congress’s spokesperson in Pune, said the city unit of the party is already active on social networking sites. “We have also directed probable candidates to use such sites to reach out to voters. Each candidate will also highlight their promises of development for the electoral panel they would be contesting from,” he said.
A leader from the Shiv Sena pointed out that as a four-ward electoral panel system is being followed in the PMC this year, the geographical area for seeking votes has doubled, while there isn’t much time left to reach out to all voters.
BJP leaders who are hopeful about getting a ticket have already launched their campaigns on social networking sites. “We were the first party to make effective use of social networking sites in elections. These sites would play a major role in the civic elections, as they did during the assembly and Lok Sabha elections. I have already collected the mobile numbers of voters through a door-to-door drive undertaken recently,” said a BJP leader.