Srinagar: In a quantum leap from previous elections when campaigning was largely restricted to hoardings, banners and rallies, political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are tapping social media in a big way to woo voters in the upcoming Assembly polls.
Since the announcement of the five-phase elections for the 87-member Assembly in J&K, the parties have embarked on vigorous campaigning and social media is one of the key battlegrounds to harness the digital tools.
The ruling National Conference (NC) is using social media in a big way for campaign purposes, with the party leaders being active on the micro-blogging site, Twitter.
The party, which launched its official Twitter account in 2012, has given a push to its campaign in cyberspace since last month, registering over 3,000 tweets.
NC has also decided to have a dedicated Youtube channel and is using Internet messaging application Whatsapp to garner support, especially among the youth.
"We are approaching the social media scientifically and our aim is to have a two-way communication with the youth of this state," said NC spokesman Junaid Mattu.
NC is working on a more robust strategy and has established a dedicated team for targeting voters through social networking sites.
"We want to reach out to the youth of the state and involve them in our programmes," said Mattu.
Political Secretary to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Tanveer Saddiq, said, "We will be reaching out to youth in their language and I believe today the youth in the city as well as rural areas are more glued to social networking sites."
Omar also believes that his "biggest shortcoming" has been that he could not sell whatever he did for the people in the past six years and lists the matter of Tosha Maidan as an example.
The meadow was with the Army on a lease which was extended by successive governments. The last of those extensions was given by the PDP-Congress government in 2004.
"It was not an ordinary decision to take back Tosha Maidan... They (PDP) forget that they were the ones who handed the meadow to Army for 10 years on lease and then kept mum," Omar said.
"But when I got it back, I didn't drum it up. Now, there will be no sound of bullets and there will be no army camps but hotels and restaurants in the meadow.
"This is what you mean by working silently," Omar said.