Poll fever has caught up big time on social media but surprisingly 50 per cent of Lok Sabha nominees from three major parties in Gujarat either don’t prefer it for canvassing or stick to ‘old school’ techniques rather than logging on Facebook or Twitter.
As per the affidavits filed by candidates of BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state, out of 76-odd nominees of these 3 parties, nearly half of them declared that they do not have any social media account, such as Facebook or Twitter.
Surprisingly, many of them don’t even have an email-ID.
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Of these candidates, 38 are not using Facebook or Twitter, as they left the column blank or just wrote ‘nil’, ‘none’ or ‘does not apply’ in their affidavits. In some cases, they just wrote their email ID in the space to mention their social media account, if any.
The ‘unsocial’ candidates on Internet include some heavyweight leaders too, including sitting Congress MP from Surendranagar Soma Ganda Patel, who has again been nominated by the party for the seat.
Patel feels Facebook and Twitter are not necessary to reach out to people.
“I don’t even have an email ID of my own. I believe in personal contact rather than using such websites. If someone wants to meet me, my office is always open. Thus, I don’t see any use of social media for reaching out to voters,” said Patel.
The BJP and AAP candidates from the same seat are also not ‘social’ on the net.
Other Congress heavyweights, all sitting MPs, who do not use social media, as per their affidavits, include Dahod candidate Dr Prabha Taviad, Jamnagar nominee Vikram Madam, Kheda candidate Dinsha Patel, Kishan Patel from Valsad, Anand candidate Bharatsinh Solanki, among others.
The BJP candidates not on social media include Ahmedabad-East candidate and actor Paresh Rawal, Dr KC Patel of Valsad, Vitthal Radadia (Porbandar), Poonam Madam (Jamnagar), Jaswant Bhabhor (Dahod) and Naran Kachhadia (Amreli).
Naishad Desai, the Congress candidate for Surat, says that he doesn’t find Facebook effective.
“I am not against using it, but, I believe in writing personalised letters to my voters than posting comment or a photo on Facebook. This time, I am sending such letters to 15 lakh voters.
I find it more effective than social media,” said Desai, who wants to stick to ‘old school techniques’.
According to secretary of Valsad (ST) Congress nominee Kishan Patel, majority of the voters in the area are not aware of social media.
“80% of our voters are uneducated tribals, who may not have access to Facebook. Thus, Patel sir does not have a Facebook account,” said Patel’s secretary.
Dr KC Patel, BJP candidate for Valsad said, “I never created my Facebook account because I don’t have time.”
Also, AAP candidate for Bardoli (ST) Chandu Chaudhari doesn’t trust social media for canvassing in his area.
“I don’t see any use of Facebook in reaching out to people, as majority of our voters are poor tribals. I prefer to meet them personally and build rapport,” said Chaudhari.
However, social media expert Suraj Vazirani has a different opinion.
“Politicians must explore the use of social media to maximise their reach. It is not only free, but also gives them an opportunity to be interactive with youngsters, particularly those who will be casting their votes for the first time,” Vazirani said.
“Your Facebook account can serve as an effective tool to build your positive image among voters. That is why many leaders keep their profile updated with all kinds of information and photographs. Such practice will surely benefit them to connect with voters and get additional votes,” he said.