Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group
It might have played a huge role in electing Barack Obama as 44th President of the United State (US) in 2008, but 65 percent of major political fronts in India still do not want to use social media platforms to reach out to electorate. Astonishingly, only two out of the six national political parties are officially linked with social networking websites.
A Zee Research Group study of the official websites of Indian political parties shows that only seven out of 20 major political fronts are linked to popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Moreover, the analysis throws up some surprising results.
India’s oldest political party, Indian National Congress (INC) is formally not connected through social media platforms. The official website of INC doesn’t even link with any social networking website. Like China, Communists in India have contempt for social networking. Major Left parties in India, including Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) and All India Forward Block (AIFB) are averse to the idea of being linked with social media websites.
Regional or trans-regional parties like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Janata Dal United (JD (U)), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Shiv Sena (SS), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (J&KNC) Janata Dal (Secular) (JD (S) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) do not have any presence on social media platforms.
While most political parties haven’t come to terms with social media, many senior and young leaders of these parties are prominent netizens.
However, seven major political fronts including two national parties – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are reaching out to voters via social media.
Political fronts in India, may not find worth in linking with people on social networking platforms but there are many senior leaders on Facebook and twitter who are being followed by lakhs of netizens. A new race to grab more and more followers on the internet has begun among our politicians. As of now, Congress MP and former deputy external affairs minister Shashi Tharoor leads with more than 14 lakh twitter followers. Tharoor is followed by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi with over seven lakh followers.
Another interesting trend is that many UPA leaders are following NDA leaders on twitter but not the vice-versa. A cursory view of the twitter page of famous and active political leaders reveals that Congress’ Shashi Tharoor and Naveen Jindal, Omar Abdullah of NC, and BJ Panda of BJD are following NDA leaders.
Tharoor through his twitter account is following Sharad Yadav, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sushma Swaraj and Varun Gandhi. Jindal and Abdullah both are following Sushma Swaraj, while Jindal is also following Modi. Lok Sabha MP of BJD from Kendrapara in Odisha B J Panda is following Anurag Thakur and Sushma Swaraj of BJP.
On the other hand, senior NDA leaders including Narendra Modi, Sharad Yadav, Sushma Swaraj, Subramanium Swamy, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Anurag Thakur and Varun Gandhi are not following any leader from their peer group.