India’s Political Parties Fighting A Cyberwar

With just a couple of months to go before assembly elections in Karnataka State, southern India (pop.65m) , political parties have all but declared war in cyberspace, in an attempt to woo young voters. 

Ironically, the leaders of the three major parties, chief minister Siddaramaiah, BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa' and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, cannot claim to be tech savvy. 

Yet, social networking sites, websites, blogs, almost every platform on cyberspace, are abuzz with sarcastic and, increasingly, vitriolic posts. "An all-party delegation to PM, letters to Goa CM, attempts at tri-party meeting and in various other ways CM @siddaramaiah has tried to solve the Mahadayi issue. The BJP Government at the Centre & in Goa did not respond to any of these overtures. Will BJP answer why?" tweeted the state Congress, followed by a four-minute promotional video. 

The central BJP, perhaps, was first off the blocks in realising the importance of a cyber campaign, but the others have caught up and they are now on an equal footing. The battle in Karnataka intensified after the BJP launched its 'Parivartana Yatra' and the Congress its 'Sadhana Sambrahma'. "Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa have been very active on Twitter," said a city-based social-networking expert. "They send out two to six tweets a day through their Twitter handlers and backroom strategists.

Almost all the major rallies by BJP and Congress leaders are streamed live on social media. “Those who cannot attend the rallies can get live updates. The parties also choose quotable quotes, illustrations, facts and figures to prove a point over their political rivals."

G Ravishankar, a social media analyst, revealed that since November, the general traffic on all three parties' Twitter and Facebook accounts have, on an average, seen a 10-fold increase in the number of daily transactions and user reach. 
"In the past one week (December 1 to 31), Siddaramaiah has tweeted 255 times and posted 54 videos, while Yeddyurappa has tweeted 220 times and posted about 35 videos. This is bound to double as polls near."

The latest flash point between the two sides is the triple talaq bill. Some Congress leaders have opposed the penal clause, while BJP leaders have cheered it. 

Experts claim political parties have augmented their online presence for the 2018 polls. They say the intensity this time is nothing compared to the 2013 assembly elections.

Ein News

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