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In poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, BJP, Congress to create 2 lakh WhatsApp groups to reach out voters

Kashif Kakvi |
It is said that BJP has the strongest IT cell in comparison to other political parties.

Image Courtesy: Livemint

Bhopal: The upcoming assembly election in Madhya Pradesh likely to fight on social media as major political parties – BJP, Congress planned to expend their social media teams by hiring more than 1.5 lakh social media experts.

Moreover, both parties have also planned to create around two lakh exclusive WhatsApp groups one lakh each, from booth level to state, aimed to reach every smartphone user voters through WhatsApp.

Ruling BJP is hiring between 70,000 to 75, 000 social media experts and named them ‘Cyber Yoddha’ (Cyber worriers), while the Congress has been hiring the same numbers of experts by naming them ‘Rajive Ke Sipahi’ to counter each other on social media. Soon both parties will star their week long training.

Both parties have been deploying cyber worriers on each booths, blocks, districts, divisions and constituencies, eyeing on the village voters.

Social media have become ubiquitous communication channels for candidates during election campaigns. Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and so on enable candidates to directly reach out to voters, mobilise supporters, and influence the public agenda.

As per the parties’ officials, their main work is to increase the presence of their parties, local leaders and national leaders on social media platforms. Propagate their manifestoes; expose the failure, achievements, round the clock.

There are 65,000 polling booths in the state, both Congress and BJP have targeted to create exclusive WhatsApp group with the name of each polling booths by roping in social media experts.

In addition to that, there are seven crore voters in Madhya Pradesh and of which between 60 to 70 % are smartphone users. With the help of WhatsApp and other social media platforms, Congress has targeted to reach out 35% voters and assured to convert 10% into the votes. While, BJP has targeted 40 to 45% smartphone users, and confident to convert 20% of them into the votes.

Currently, both the parties have been recruiting their party workers who are tech-savvy but they may also hire paid social media experts if needed.

Why WhatsApp

When asked why both parties are much focused on WhatsApp in comparison to Facebook, Content and Strategy head, BJP Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Dabi replied, “Facebook is a common platform, where one can notice others’ activities and it is a two way communication. But WhatsApp is a close platform and more important, it is personal and very fast messaging app. Facebook may take time in make things viral but on WhatsApp in hardly take an hour.”

More important, of 7 crore voters, approximately there are 4.5 crore have smartphone users and use WhatsApp. “WhatApp have highest reach in comparison to other media platforms,” he added.

While Madhya Pradesh Congress IT in-charge for content and strategy, Abhay Tiwari said, “There is no doubt that WhatsApp is the fastest technology of communication today. Besides WhatsApp, we have created some Facebook pages, which now have a huge number of following to share the contents there. We have also planned to use Facebook accounts of senior party leaders who have huge number of following to share the contents.

Congress’ strategy –

Booth level

Create WhatsApp groups with the name of each pooling booths and the social media expert of that polling booth will be the admin of the group. He will be responsible for sharing contents, photos, videos and make sure it reaches to every smartphone user voters of the booth.

Of 65,000, Congress has recruited around 30,000 social media experts till date and recruitment for rest are underway.

Besides booth level, the party has also recruited social media experts on block, divisions, constituencies and districts level including ‘a state group’ which comprises national leaders of the party who will monitor the activates and will work as a think tank for social media campaign.

“Besides, 30,000 WhatsApp groups are already running and exposing the government’s failure. The idea behind creating booth level groups to ensure that our message will reach to every smartphone user of that booth, so, the voters can decide whom they should vote,” said Madhya Pradesh Congress IT in-charge for content and strategy, Abhay Tiwari, adding that over all, we have planned to create 1 lakh WhatApp groups to for election campaign.

What content they will share --

Congress has planned to highlight BJP government’s failure with the help of short videos, texts, and graphics. “We have too much ammunition against the ruling party-BJP, which is in power since 15 years in the state and failed to deliver on countless fronts. As an opposition, the only thing we need to do is to convey this message to the voter and convince them to vote for change,” said Congress’ state IT in-charge, Abhay Tiwari.

To deal with fake news and communal card

From August 30, 2018, likely two months before the election, the Congress has planned to launch ‘Sawdhan Series campaign’ in which they highlight the fake news spread by the other political parties and also to create awareness over the communal card.

“Using communal card through fake news before election is the key for BJP to win election. To counter it, Congress will launch ‘Sawdhan Series’ to create awareness and till date we have lodged four FIR against fake news, to stop such contents in future,” said state in-charge, Tiwari.

He further added that the party has planned to run a special campaign against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Couhan to expose his involvement in the scams, his failure as a chief minister, as an administrator and more important his failure in addressing farmers’ issue.

Congress is leaving no stone unturned to expose BJP government in this election. As per the party official, from August 30, 2018, coordinator of all 230 assemblies will share a video in a week, carrying bytes of the locals over their genuine problems. “The representatives of the respective constituencies will visit different towns, villages every week and make a video of the problems prevailing in that area by taking public bytes each week. Later, it will be share on Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups. In four months, we likely to share 4, 600 videos,” added Tiwari.

BJP’s strategy

It is said that BJP has the strongest IT cell in comparison to other political parties and they are master of roaster in dealing with the online stuffs. BJP’s plan for Madhya Pradesh election is a bit different from the grand old party.

The party is not only creating 65, 000 WhatsApp groups for booth level but also on block, district, divisions and assembly levels. The party has planned to create over all 90,000 WhatsApp group by roping in around 80,000 social media experts.

“If we talk about the structure of the social media team, there will be one social media expert on each booth, while on six on each block, 11 in a district, nine on assembly and a state body comprises 50 members including senior BJP leader and senior social media experts,” said content and strategy head, BJP Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Dabi adding that there is a plan to create around 90,000 WhatsApp groups for upcoming election,”.

Content they share

To woo the voters, the saffron party has planned to advertise the schemes of state and union government. To make their appeal more effective, the IT Cell has decided to share the success stories of government scheme beneficiaries.

“We will not only share success stories of state and centre government schemes beneficiaries but also cash the popularity of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Dabi added.

He further said, “Sharing video stories, charts of government schemes beneficiaries are our key to woo the voters. In last 15 years, hundreds of welfare schemes have been floated by the state government and some of the schemes are much popular and there are numerous beneficiaries who are eager to share their experience with us. It will leave huge impact on voters and convince them to vote for the BJP again.”

No plan to tackle farmers’ issue

When asked, is there any strategy to woo the farmers, because the state had witnessed some of the major farmers’ protest and follow up violence and deaths which had put the state government on backfoot, Dabi said, “Farmers are happy with Shivraj government. Schemes like Bhavantar scheme are much popular among them. It is Congress who is provoking them. The recent rally of the Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Mandsaur is the perfect example where farmers distanced themselves from it.”

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