Divya Himachal Logo Sep 22nd, 2017


Social Media Baffles People

Himachal This Week Team (cover story)

NEWSSocial media baffles people. That is evident from Divya Himachal’s online survey asking, “Has social media significant impact in Himachal politics?” Notably,  51% respondents said social media has no significant impact in Himachal politics while 47% said it has an impact. Social media is agog with political posts these days in Himachal in the run up to general assembly elections due later this year. Not only the political parties are using it to intensify their electioneering but aspirants are also making its full use to stake their claim for a party ticket. The BJP has a full fledged IT cell handled by professionals in place whereas a handful of volunteers are taking care of Congress party’s IT cell. Political parties find themselves in another piquant situation as many aspiring candidates are staking their claim for a party ticket on social media to enter electoral fray.  However, credibility of posts on social media is also under scanner as political rivals are using it to level accusations and malign their rivals. As a result, users are left to themselves to judge credibility of posts on social media. The BJP has used social media extensively in various elections, including last Lok Sabha elections to reach out to electorate. Himachal is also experiencing the same situation now. Whether social media plays any role in deciding poll prospects of political parties in upcoming assembly election? One will have to wait for the result.


BJP’s Aggressive Campaign

Sunil Sharma

NEWSThe BJP has prepared an aggressive campaign strategy through social media in its bid to regain power in this hilly state. It has already been implemented by the party by constituting a separate IT Cell that includes 15 people, said sources. The party had made intensive use of social media to regain power at the centre and the party will adopt same strategy in Himachal also that goes to polls later this year.  The BJP sources revealed that party has appointed IT in charge in four different parliamentary constituencies. In addition, there are IT conveners in 17 organisational districts and 73 mandals. It has also appointed one convener at each of 7479 booths to reach out to electorate in rural and urban areas as well.  The BJP is effectively using social media to spread messages about visits of central and state leaders through social media even months before polls.

* Social media BJP’s biggest tool in assembly elections

* 7479 booth conveners appointed

* Same system in 17 organisational districts, 73 mandals

* 15 Persons in IT executive

* 5 Member committee for maintaining credibility

‘Most Effective Mean Of Communication’

Himachal This Week talked to those handling social media cells of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party to know their opinion about authenticity of posts on social media: Following are the excerpts:

HTW: Overall contribution in managing social media and party’s campaign on social media?

Gokul Butail: Till 2012 elections, I was associated with party’s social media. When I came back to India, I was appointed IT Adviser to CM in 2015. Working with the government, I was unable to give time to party’s social media campaigns.

HTW: Response from people active on social media?

Gokul Butail: Response of people in social media is quite good. Notably, the demand for transition of contract period for employees from five years to three years was continuously pouring through social media.

HTW: How many people handle party’s official social media sites?

Gokul Butail: Pradesh Congress Committee has appointed a social media convener for the state who handles party’s social media. As and when party wants my services, I will do the needful.

HTW: Is it easy to spread message through social media?

Gokul Butail: Social media today has become the most effective mean of communication. It is a two way communication and helps to get feedback and gauge voters interest.

HTW: How do you maintain credibility about party’s social media campaigns?

Gokul Butail: Today the opposition we are fighting with is a creation of social media to an extent. While the BJP has fleet of over a thousand hired professionals supporting their social media campaign, the Congress is struggling to make its way with the help of handful volunteers. We try to maintain credibility to give information from credible sources and don’t spread rumours unlike our opposition in social media.

-As told by Gokul Butail to Jaideep Rehan/Palampur

Gokul Butail* Notably, the demand for transition of contract period for employees from five years to three  years was continuously pouring through social media

-Gokul Butail, Advisor (IT)  to CM

‘BJP Biggest Party To Use Social Media’

The Bharatiya Janata Party has emerged as the biggest party that is using social media effectively, claims BJP IT Cell head Ravi Rai Rana. A five member committee has especially been constituted under the IT Cell to check any misinformation to maintain authenticity of campaigning based on facts and figures, he adds. The party believes that social media can become the best tool to campaign if its credibility is maintained. Meanwhile handlers of BJP’s social media claim that party’s facebook viewers were 57,000 in number when national BJP president Amit Shah visited Palampur. The number has risen to 1.37 lakh since then, they claim.

Ravi Rai Rana* A five member committee has especially been constituted under the IT Cell to check any misinformation to maintain authenticity of campaigning based on facts and figures

-Ravi Rai Rana, IT Cell Head, BJP

Mudslinging At Rivals

Social media is also used as tool to malign political rivals. At times such posts cross all limits and defamatory words are used against each other. It has also become a medium to pose questions at performance of political adversaries. Notably, three lists reportedly of more than 50 BJP candidates have surfaced at social media even as the party has termed these as ‘fake’. Taking strong cognizance of the matter, the BJP has lodged a complaint in this regard.

Fake Lists: BJP Lodges Complaint 

Peeved at posting of fake lists of candidates to contest upcoming assembly elections the BJP has lodged a complaint under IT Act demanding action against those responsible for uploading such posts on social media.

Credibility Is Biggest Factor

Credibility of posts on social media is the biggest concern for its users. Even as parties and leaders post material that is supposed to propagate their political interests yet other examples are witnessed in which an effort is made to malign political rivals and parties. There is so much information and campaign on social media that user is left to himself to decide about authenticity of such posts.

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