Lakhs of ‘likes’, comments and ‘views’ on social media have failed to convert into votes for senior party leaders in Punjab polls results. The big guns of Aam Aadmi Party, including MP Bhagwant Mann, state convenor Gupreet Ghuggi, youth wing president Harjot Bains and others who enjoy immense popularity and following on Facebook and Twitter lost polls by huge margins.
Aapna Punjab Party (APP) founder Suchha Singh Chhotepur, who formed the party after ouster from AAP, got a little above 1,740 votes whereas his Facebook page alone has more than 61,500 followers and Twitter has 12,000. The winner from Gurdaspur, Barindermeet Pahra of Congress, got 67,000 votes.
AAP had often claimed that Bhagwant Mann was the most popular leader on social media.
Abhinav Budhiraja, social media head of AAP, said, “It was actually our MP Bhagwant Mann who started using Facebook live and interacting with people directly. Seeing its massive reach and success, other parties copied and followed us. During entire campaigning, AAP Punjab went live almost 20 times a day and response was huge. His videos even crossed 7 lakh views live.”
Mann, a stand-up comedian-turned-politician who has 18 lakh ‘likes’ on his Facebook page and 1.76 lakh followers on Twitter, lost to deputy CM Sukhbir Badal from Jalalabad by 18,500 votes.
His recent post after results saying ‘Raat Lambi hon da matlab, suraj di mout nahi hundi’ (Night can be longer but sun can’t die) got 40,000 Likes on FB. Another one saying thanking people who voted for AAP got 81,000 Likes.
An hour before counting was to be begin, Mann again went Live on Facebook hoping for ‘Nawan suraj’ (new dawn) in Punjab and video got massive 5.03 lakh views.
AAP youth president Harjot Bains, who has 76,000 followers on Facebook and 13,900 on Twitter, lost by 23,600 votes to SAD candidate Sharanjit Dhillon from Sahnewal.
AAP state convenor Gurpreet Singh Waraich Ghuggi, a comedian-turned-politician who is also popular on social media with 2.71 lakh followers on Facebook and 18,600 on Twitter, lost from Batala by 8,000 votes.
Jagrup Singh Sekhon, political science professor from Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), says “over-dependence on social media for campaigning without strengthening other factors proved costly for some candidates”. “Social media is just one of the many tools to campaign. It cannot be the only tool. Sometimes, too much of everything is bad. Likes on Facebook and Twitter can never be basis of winning elections,” he said.
“Leaders while claiming that they are the most popular ones on social media forget that still most of our rural population including women and elders do not use smartphones or social media. A hype was created on social media in favour of some candidates but it utterly failed to convert into votes,” said a source from AAP.