Political parties in Chhattisgarh are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to young voters through mobile phones and social media to influence them in their favour ahead of the next month’s Assembly elections.
Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition Congress have created Facebook pages for their candidates in 90 constituencies and are promoting their stand on the smartphone application called ‘Whatsapp’,besides using voice calls.
“Work has been completed to woo the cyberworld ahead of the coming Assembly elections through slogans,songs,cartoons,advertisement campaigns,as well as videos,” Head of BJP’s Information Technology Cell Deepak Maske said.
After finding less users of Twitter in Chhattisgarh,the focus is mostly on Facebook and Whatsapp in urban areas,while in remote areas of Bastar and Surguja in North Chhattisgarh,where Internet is not available,voice calls will help the party to reach young voters,Maske said.
The BJP has also hired technocrats from Chhattisgarh and other states to chalk out strategies to promote the party in the virtual world. After candidates for all constituencies are announced,the online campaign would begin,he said.
Similarly,the Congress plans to expand the reach of the party and its leadership on various online media platforms.
“We have provided smartphones to some party leaders in remote areas so that they can show the party’s promotional videos to villagers and make them listen to audio messages,” Head of Congress’ IT Cell Sameer Pandey said.
Right from day-to-day happenings to information on rallies,list of candidates and photo galleries,everything is available on Facebook pages of candidates. The message is also spread though SMS and Whatsapp.
However,both parties say that traditional ways of campaigning like rallies,meetings,door-to-door canvassing will take place as usual.
“You cannot win polls only by reaching out to people through social media and mobile technology,but these are definitely tools which can help the process. The party is focused on taking our senior leaders to the youth in Bastar through voice call technology,” BJP’s sitting MLA Mahesh Gagda who is contesting from the Maoist-hit Bijapur constituency said.
Meanwhile,the Congress nominee from Raipur City South seat,Kiranmayi Nayak,who has been very active on Facebook,said that almost all candidates update their Facebook accounts regularly with election-related content.
“The aim is to encourage those people who like to spend ten hours on Facebook,but they rarely take interest to stand in a queue for a few hours to exercise their franchise,” she said.
She also said that a candidate cannot spend much on digital and online campaigning,since the expenditure limit for each contestant is Rs 16 lakh.
The first phase of polls for 18 constituencies of Southern Chhattisgarh is on November 11,while the remaining 72 constituencies would go to polls on November 19.