As the race for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections gets heated up,the political parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to the voters. Be it the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),the parties are using all means to communicate with the voters and lure them to gather numbers. The world of virtual social network provides a perfect platform to them to propagate their agenda.
Facebook,Twitter and Youtube have emerged as the new pitch for campaigning and highlighting the achievements of the parties,to engage voters and urge them to be a part of the organisation.
Though the presence of the Congress and the BJP on the websites are of approximately the same magnitude,the nature and the texture is certainly different. The Congress appears more into highlighting its achievements over the years while the BJP seems to be in the process of engaging more people and strengthening its organisational structure.
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Here’s a look at the presence of these parties on different websites:
To start with,while the Congress (Indian National Congress) introduces itself as the world’s largest democratic political organisation,the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) terms itself as a major political party founded in 1980.
The timeline of the Congress mainly features its achievements over the years and highlights the association of the stalwarts from India’s freedom struggle days. The page prominently displays quotes of the likes of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel,Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.
The achievements that the party has highlighted on its timeline are – Rise in country’s per capita income,Right to Food,Economic reforms,Aadhaar Card scheme among others.
And not surprisingly,there is a special focus on the Gandhi family,particularly on the elevation and rise of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi within the party.
On the other hand,the Facebook timeline of the BJP seems to focus on increased engagement with the voters,particularly the youth. So much so that the party has also been running a series of questionnaire on the political system of the country. For example,one of the questions is how many seats a party needs to form a government?
The party has also published information that is useful for the voters,such as an external link on how to apply for a voter ID card.
Undoubtedly,BJP’s social networking team seems to be better equipped and more active than that of the Congress. And this is backed by the number of likes that each page has received,while the Congress has 131,690 likes,the BJP has 1,098,339 likes.
The Congress now has two handles on the microblogging website Twitter. While @aicctweets has been there for long,the other one @INCIndia is just two days old,with its first tweet on August 3,2013. However,the twitter handle of the Bharatiya Janata Party @BJP4India is quite old and also has its presence well established.
While both the Twitter handles of the Congress together have 2,614 followers,the BJP has as many as 97,466 followers. Like Facebook,the BJP clearly surges far ahead of the ruling party on the Twitter world as well.
The first remarkable difference between the Youtube channels of the parties is the number of subscribers. While the BJP clearly mentions the number as 14,940,the Youtube channel of the Congress party just does not show a number against the Subscribe tab.
Another striking feature is choice of the featured video. The featured video of the BJP’s channel is about how to join the party. It mentions,in detail,the online procedure of becoming a member of the party,having details of the form and the payment procedure of the membership fee.
Whereas,the featured video on the Congress channel is that of a speech by party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi,addressed to the gram panchayat at Thrissur in Kerala on April 16,2013.
This suggests a lot about the focus of both the parties on the social networking platform. The Congress,whose leaders have often faced the heat over proposing censor for internet,has its focus on its three top leaders Sonia Gandhi,Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. On the other hand,the BJP seems more concerned towards engaging with the people or say,engaging people with the party. And the focus is certainly not limited to few top leaders,as those like Vijay Goel,Shahnawaz Hussain and Ravishankar Prasad can also be prominently seen there.
The Youtube channel of the Congress party appears to get updated at an interval of few days,while that of the BJP is updated almost every hour.
And after going through these website,it can undoubtedly be said that the BJP is far ahead of the Congress as far as the virtual political pitch is concerned. It seems unlikely that the Congress would be able to catch up with the BJP on the social networking platform,at least before the 2014 battle.