Parties in Punjab fighting a social media war to attract young voters

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CHANDIGARH:  With the AAP, Congress and Akali Dal-BJP set to face each other in the much anticipated State Assembly polls scheduled for February 4, parties are in for a virtual war on the social media in a bid to attract the young voters.

An illustration strip that is being widely shared on social media networks shows Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh throwing AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal out of the wrestling ring. While in another illustration, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann lifts deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on his shoulders in the ring.

With 53 per cent voters in the age group of 18 to 39 years in Punjab and a high rate of mobile phone usage in the state, for the first time, the campaigning by the political parties and candidates on the ground is surpassed by a full-fledged social media war being fought which has AAP in the lead followed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress.

Talking with Express, 22-year-old Pulkit Sharma who is handling the AAP social media campaign in Punjab says, “The party has Facebook page ‘Aam Aadmi Party – Punjab’ which has 8.50 lakh likes and besides this there are other Facebook pages  Aam Aadmi-Jalandhar and Aam Aadmi-Ludhiana which have 3.50 lakh likes each. Besides that all the eleven zones have their respective Facebook pages which have their followers.’’

“Not just Facebook, the party also has  32,000 followers on its main handle on twitter and besides that, every candidate (117 constituencies) has a twitter handle with an average 1000 followers and all the 11 zones have their handles with average 5,000 to 10,000 followers besides 400 whatsapp groups,’’ he said.

The aggressive social media team of AAP posts updates pertaining to election or political stand of the over numerous issues, posters etc apart from cartoons and illustrations— ‘Dangal with Badals’. “Every day we post fifty illustrations/cartoons,  which on an estimate, reach about two to three lakh people,’’ claims Sharma.

AAP’s social media campaigning is handled by a dedicated team of ten volunteers that include Dola Baru Singh, a housewife from Phagwara town of the state who handles the party’s twitter handle besides Harmeet Singh who works from Hyderabad. Volunteers from abroad also help the team to run these social media campaigns successfully.

The party also facilitates the voters with an opportunity to compare the profiles of the candidates for the people to judge wisely.

It is estimated that Punjab has about 49 lakh Facebook users and AAP claims that all the users in the state have seen its campaign on Facebook.

AAP is followed by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal as it has 5.35 lakh likes on its Facebook page and 68, 700 Twitter followers and the Congress has 2.90 lakh likes on its Punjab page and 11,2 00 followers on Twitter and 1000 Whatsapp groups to spread the information. The party’s social media exercise is being handled by a team in Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee.

The SAD’s junior coalition partner BJP is also running a social media cell for the last three months.

[Source:-The Indian Express]