With the increasing use of social media in today’s digitised world, it is often observed that the one who has a good social media presence gets a bigger audience. Hence, the BJP social media cell have put forward their focus on women for their campaigning; following that, Congress to be in the race has started giving the limelight to Divya Spandana and Priyanka Chaturvedi, the two who completely took over the party’s social media cell to give a tough fight to BJP over digital space especially during Gujarat, Karnataka and UP elections. However, keeping the 2019 elections in the view, it is seen that the Congress despite having a strong brigade is lacking behind the opposition BJP over social media campaigning.
In a conversation with AV, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam accepted that when it comes to social media, BJP is far ahead from Congress.
“In the past 3-4 years, we have made our social media department really stronger. We have started working towards it very aggressively. The entire anti-BJP campaigning that is going on now, Congress plays a huge role in that. We agree that BJP has more aggressive women volunteers to support its social media campaigning, Congress too has a strong team but we need to work hard and the process to make it even more powerful and efficient is going on every day. New members are joining us daily with new excitement and energy”, he further added.
The Congress’s women social media brigade involves major participation from Hasiba Amin, Ruchira Chaturvedi apart from the department head Divya Spandana who has helped the party in the recent years. Radhika Khera, Sonakshi Vashistha, Vidya Raj, Sharmistha Mukherjee, Shobha Oza, Kriratna etc. are also amongst the social media handlers of the Congress party from different states who lack the sense to express and speak more and have a stand on their opinion. It is believed by the experts that not all from the Congress social media department are actively involved on all available platforms perhaps keeping the party’s agenda at a less priority.
On the other hand, BJP’s social media cell have a lot more to speak and express as it not only reposts their leaders’ post but it also promotes the party’s agenda and has an ability to counter their arguments and keep forward their stand. It shows that women’s wing of BJP has good speakers and contributors for their social media campaign.
When AV spoke to Congress National Convenor Hasiba Amin, keeping a strong stand of their work, she expressed, “Women volunteers on Congress social media handles are extremely powerful with their point of view on any issue while on the other side, BJP’s social media presence is all about threatening, harassing women, and issuing rape threats and the party has a problem with women having a voice. There is a strong and empowered base of women that actively supports Congress in their social media campaigning.”
Initially, it was Divya Spandana who had boosted energy of Congress’s social media team from creating a buzz around Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s rallies to a Congress leader’s book launch to wishing party seniors on their birthdays, the so-far nascent social media cell of the Grand Old Party had suddenly come alive, leading the battle in election-bound states. Although, one of the reasons considered for turning around of the Congress’s social media game can be Spandana’s cut up with belated attempts in the party to bring her department under oversight.
Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh commented, “In today’s world, social media is a prime source of news for the public and BJP has hacked almost of the social media. BJP has luxurious party houses and with that abundance of the fund, it’s very easy for them to garner paid support and paid volunteers. On the other hand, Congress’ social handles are run by our own party workers. Congress’ campaign on social media is getting stronger every day.”
From a small unit, the cell has a proper organisation now with four people made in-charge of states. These work closely with state units. Any activity in the states — rallies, specific governance issues or crime against women or negligence — are flagged by state units to these in-charges. In the last three months, Congress recruited professionals to double the social media team strength and 85 per cent members of Congress’s new social media team are women. It is believed that if Congress and the media team put in more effort to train the other members, it can be a tougher fight for the BJP ahead of the general election in 2019, as their ability to garner support and make Congress digitally more relevant will be put to test.