Zee Research Group/Delhi
After all social media is not exactly the game changer as it was supposed to be this election. The social media usage pattern so far reflects a mixed trend.
Mainline political parties are proactively pushing the social media to reach out to voters but candidates themselves are yet shy of embracing the new medium.
A study of social media usage for the first four phases of this election beginning April 7 and concluding April 12 shows party candidates focused on use of conventional communication tools.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study of affidavits of 287 candidates fielded for first four poll phases by Congress, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) respectively shows not even 50 per cent having an account on social media. Worse, about 20 per cent of these candidates in the fray are yet to use an email address.
As per the study, contestants from India’s oldest party Congress take the lead in shying away from social media. In first four phases, 61.3 per cent of Congress candidates have not used social media to connect with voters. Out of 93 candidates fielded by the party only 36 are on social media. Moreover, there are nine nominees from the party who don’t even have an email address.
There are exceptions to the rule though. In first four phases, Thiruvananthapuram will go for polls on April 10, where from Congress has fielded Shashi Tharoor as its nominee. He is one of the first Indian politicians to join twitter. His popularity among netizens can be assessed with the fact that 2.14 million people are following him on twitter.
The new kid on the block AAP follows Congress with 58.33 per cent contenders who are yet to log on to the social media. AAP has fielded 96 candidates in first four phases, out of which only 40 are having their presence on social media. The party has given ticket to nine candidates who do not have an email address.
AAP, however, has some big hitters on social media out there to try their luck in the first four phases. In third poll phase on April 10 fate of AAP leaders including Yogendra Yadav, Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi will be sealed in the EVM. They all have a good social media support. While Yadav has 166 thousand followers on twitter, Ashutosh and Ilmi have 159 thousand and 104 thousand followers respectively.
In first four phases of polls, BJP has 56.12 per cent candidates who are not yet on social media. Out of 98 saffron party candidates in first four phases, only 43 are having an account on social media platforms. More so, there are 15 saffron party candidates who do not an email account.
Former chief of Army, VK Singh, however, is one of the most prominent social media face in first four phases for the party. Singh is being followed by 73.6 thousand netizens on twitter. Singh is fighting as BJP candidate from Ghaziabad where elections will take place on April 10.
As per a study (by IRIS Knowledge Foundation and Internet and Mobile Association of India) came last year, social media is likely to impact Maharashtra the most in Lok Sabha polls. However, it’s Delhi not Maharashtra which has the maximum 90.48 per cent candidates having presence on social media.
Maharashtra has 60.87 per cent candidates having an account on social media. Interestingly, Haryana has 75 per cent contenders who are already logged on to social media.
The analysis has been done based on the details of candidates of BJP, Congress and AAP in first four phases of polls concluding April 12, 2014.