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Did social media change BJP’s fate?

The rise of the social media and digital technologies made it possible that every person can voice their opinion. One can talk fearlessly using these mediums and also bring revolution collectively. Now, social media has become more popular and famous than mainstream media. Media barons are always there on the target list of social media. Social media is playing the role of a watchdog. Rising interest on social media as user-generated content, issues which have impacted on democracy can be debated on this popular arenas. Although, social media like Twitter and Facebook have its own role in deciding the fate of increasingly significant roles in the public sphere and for political agenda-setting. In 2014 general elections it played an important role, politicians have their own control. Political parties had their strong anti and pro groups, which were raising the popularity of their leaders through publicity methods and display. Social media are interlinked with mainstream media, and should be understood a part of a cross-media environment. Interaction between social media and mainstream media influence agenda-setting and public debate.

Anna Hazare’s movement against Corruption, Delhi Gang-Rape to Afzal Guru’s execution, social media has played a vital role in telecasting these events. In 2012, social media has contributed greatly in Gujarat elections, Anna Hazare movement, corruption issues or government policy declarations. In the year 2013, there is dissatisfaction and bitterness simmering against the ruling party. They are accused of corrupt activities. Then too, as of now, divisive communal issues were appended to the political agenda to broaden the appeal of the campaign against corruption. There was an anger and fear in the voters. This situation is creating an ambience where every voter, particularly in North India, has swayed to cast his ballot in very different ways than he or she had in the past. There are extreme similarities between Indian political reality of 1989 and 2012. Then, like now, coalition governance had established their roots in a system over which the Congress dominated. Then, the political landscape didn’t have an array of small parties which were willing to support the Congress or BJP at the Centre in exchange for governing their respective States.

Social media had marginally affected 2014 general elections. In India, politicians and the people are currently using the social media to deliver their views and woos’ which has worked for some and created trouble for others. However, this trouble has not deterred anyone from saying what they want to speak in most cases. The Congress, which was not worrying about social media, has now started worrying about its impact. With corruption becoming the buzzword on social networking sites, the party is naturally concerned about its fallout, especially among the urban middle class, in the general elections. Social media has come to set the agenda for national media but the party has no clue about how to handle this phenomenon. And in this regard Twitter and Facebook has played vital role. Congress has always been criticised through the medium of social medium.

India is rapidly urbanising and with increasing purchasing power, people have become more prosperous and the rank of middle class is swelling. In the recent assembly elections, social media was used as a tool between the government and the people and has touched hearts of millions and changed the perception of one being digitally engaged. It seems that it caught the networking vibe in elections in high spirits.

The three basic social media websites used by most of the politicians are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These days, every politician is trying to use Twitter or Facebook to reach out to masses directly. Almost, every political party and politicians have their own media setup such as camera crews, video editing group and IT crews. This ‘team’ of ministers like social celebrities is engaged in promoting their master’s views and videos on social network. Subramaniam Swamy and Arvind Kejriwal are the best examples, they record their opinion, with or without any base or proof and publish the same on Youtube and later the same links are spread on other social networks.
Many non-political groups also exist on social networking sites who are conditioning the minds of citizens against or for the government. Social media is divided between different supportive groups. The usage had become an important tool for the campaigns. The technological advances that social media has gone through over the years has allowed millions of users to use the two way communication. Users can share opinions, information, audio clips, images, video and others. This has made these sites a cultural discussion dais in many ways. However, the political consultants now are including the information they are finding on social media sites to target their online advertising. My question remains same; has social media left its impact on the 2014 general elections? If the social media works like institutions then somehow it has shaped the election. So, in short, it has helped to boost voters’ turnout in 2014? Deep and fundamental lessons are learnt within political parties about the internet and trust and hence it is not likely to change the online politics of generation next. I think, social media has taken major steps to change the politics in India. Social media manipulated the online population and spread the opinion by influencing everyone for or against the ruling party.

Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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