In yet another innovative idea by social media, Facebook users would be able to pose questions directly to key political contenders for 2014 general elections with the launch of a special initiative, ‘Facebook Talks Live’, by the social networking website. “In this ‘Facebook Talks Live’ season, you can ask Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav how they will govern India and what are their priorities and agendas from next month. Common man and youth will get a chance to interact with their leaders on the social network. Presently, the BJP has hit the web in a big way. Many a time, when an Internet user opens a website, strategically placed ads of Modi and BJP chief Rajnath Singh pops up asking people to donate to party funds. These advertisements pop up even when you visit some Pakistani websites. Customised content for cellphone users, Facebook and twitter is also being generated and circulated. Modi is centre point to BJP’s election campaign where other leaders are found missing unlike the India Shining campaign that celebrated the senior leadership of the party.
The BJP has created a separate online platform where content is generated and distributed to its cadres for further relay. Ring tones, stickers, posters designs, artistically designed pamphlets laying out the ‘Modi Vision’, ‘Modi Agenda’ ‘Modi’s 8-point development plan’, are up for grabs. All of Modi’s interactions, speeches, are transcribed and put online within minutes. Google hang-outs, Facebook posts, promoted tweets and video conferences have become de rigueur for the parties in the current campaign as they seek to leverage technology to reach out. Modi, the clear leader in the social space has 3.38 million followers. BJP is aggressively promoting its “Mission272+” volunteer initiative on social media channels. As a result, Group M estimates that digital spends will grow to 35 per cent in 2014, albeit on a low base. Sites like Modi 360 are on the ball, reporting everything and anything on Modi, giving it a positive spin. It claimed US envoy Nancy Powell’s meeting with Modi, a big victory for him.
Spending on advertisements on television, radio and hoardings was not new. Earlier, politicians used to do lots of manual campaign to promote their party and leader. Congress was known for their ad campaigns. Parties always spend huge on promoting their leaders. It was Indira Gandhi, who ushered in the era of popular slogans and catchy campaign strategies to win elections. Having to fight the powerful old guard, the Kamraj-led syndicate, the Morarjis and the Nijalingappas, she could not leave it to the Congress party to do what was needed. “The authorship of the catchy Indira-era slogans was attributed to the party’s in-house poet Srikant Verma. The ad for vote’s culture was brought into the party in a big way by Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 with a campaign worked around Indira Gandhi’s assassination and Operation Bluestar. That was the time when posters, banners and stencil graffiti were the only tools of propagating one’s political message to the masses. There were no social media, no technology for outside support. Party had writers, poets, intellectuals in its midst and they were given credence and space to contribute creatively. As the technology has grown, the gamete of social media has gone wide spread; political parties exploited every possible means here.
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would be the first guest on the session scheduled for March 3 to whom netizens can ask about his stand on various issues, question about his party’s policies and his vision for India. Eminent journalist Madhu Trehan would moderate the session by asking questions on behalf of Facebook users, which would also be live-streamed on the website besides being broadcast on a private television channel. It is estimated that over 93 million people in India are engaged actively every month on Facebook. The Facebook official said social engagement is at the core of the website’s values and in politics and elections. It is also to influencing voting behaviors and organising opinions.
On the other hand, in India majority users of Facebook or even New Media are the youngsters. Facebook may stick to these cheap tactics of promotion of wrong candidates for the PM’s post but Rahul Gandhi is the true leader of youth, who has spent a better part of his career shaping the Youth Congress. Again it’s theoretical, when will they become practical? Facebook is not the solution for the problems in India. They are earning so much but in return, what they have done for the betterment of people in India? It’s crucial to elaborate their work in front of the people, not for chatting on Facebook. For two people this is irrelevant, Kejriwal who is always there on news channel giving interviews to each and every channel! He even calls the entire media for issuing an FIR or replacing Bureaucrats. Though both the FIRs have little reason and facts and are more of a rhetoric. One won’t be surprised if he has lined up 100 more such interviews before the Lok Sabha. And Narendra Modi is another guy. He already gets the common men from all walks of life to question him and replies to them.
After doing all sort of drama, now we have to really wait and watch who will win the actual battle.