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Social Media alien to many candidates in Delhi

Contrary to the claims of it being a political game changer, social media is yet to be fully embraced by politicians slugging it out for top honors in upcoming Delhi polls. The new kid on the block Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is no exception.



Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Contrary to the claims of it being a political game changer, social media is yet to be fully embraced by politicians slugging it out for top honors in upcoming Delhi polls. The new kid on the block Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is no exception.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study of affidavits filed with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by candidates of main parties in the fray for Delhi polls shows a rather dismal social media presence.

Congress leads the pack with 44 per cent of its candidates shying away as of now from the social media. Its rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does marginally better with 32 per cent of contestants in Delhi not being on social media.

As per the affidavit recordings, AAP’s candidates’ profile shows that 20 per cent of its candidates have chosen to be away from social media.

The study further throws significant perspectives on the social media outlook of political parties. Congress led by Sheila Dikshit and contesting all the 70 constituencies has fielded 31 candidates having no presence on social media. The list includes three cabinet ministers in Delhi government – Haroon Yusuf (Minister for food & Civil Supplies Department), Ashok Kumar Walia (Minister for Health & Family Welfare Department) and Arvinder Singh Lovely (Minister for Urban Development).

Moreover, the saffron party led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan in Delhi has given 21 seats to such leaders who are neither on facebook nor on twitter. In this election, the BJP has also allocated four seats to its long-standing ally Akali Dal.

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, a new political party, has fielded 14 such candidates who are yet to join the social media. Candidates across political parties have no email address either. AAP has six such candidates, BJP five and Congress three respectively.

The poor social media turnout among politicians, however, does not surprise. Anand Kumar, professor at Centre for the Study of Social Systems in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) believes social media is a new phenomenon.

“The fact that many of the candidates are not on social media is not surprising and is on the expected lines. Men over 50 and female over 30 years of age are not addicted to the social media.”

Endorsing Kumar’s viewpoint, Pankaj Prasoon, director at the Centre for Indian Political Research and Analysis (CIPRA), avers, “Social media is only a political propaganda to woo young voters. Most of the social media followers are not voters,” he added.

Likewise, Anurag Mittal, National Coordinator at Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) affirms, “It is a worrying sign that most of the netizens are not voters. Although, the Election Commission has provided online facility for the first time voters to get enrolled, yet youth is not excited about the enrollment.”

A study done in 2012 by research group IRIS Knowledge Foundation and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) said social media could have a “high impact” on 160 of the 543 constituencies in 2014 general elections, and no contestant could afford to ignore this medium.

Kumar at JNU explains that only having good foothold on social media doesn’t guarantee win in elections. He asserts, “Assembly election in Karnataka is the best example where many candidates despite having good social media connect no one could garner more than 15 thousand votes”. “However, this doesn’t mean that any party can afford to ignore social media completely as it impacts 15 to 20 per cent voters in most of the constituencies,” he cautions.

Across parties, there are some notable names in the election having many followers on social media. While Kejriwal has nearly nine lakh and seven lakh plus followers on facebook and twitter respectively, his party men Manish Sisodia and Shazia Ilmi respectively are also being followed by 41 thousand and 28 thousand netizens.

However, Sheila Dikshit (facebook) and Dr. Harsh Vardhan (twitter) are followed by over 1 lakh and 15 thousand netizens respectively.

From Zee News

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