Thursday, 9 October 2014

In a role reversal Shiv Sena, NCP rule social media as BJP flounders

The party which had used social media as a powerful tool to create an anti-Congress atmosphere as well as project its leader Narendra Modi, who ultimately ended up as prime minister, seems to be floundering in the same domain when it comes to the state assembly elections.
What was Sena's strategy?
After the break-up of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, Sena started projecting itself as a son of the soil party by targeting Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. "It also gave colour to the Gujarati versus Marathi conflict, projecting that Gujaratis are dominating the Marathi manoos by not allowing them to buy flats and cook non-vegetarian food in Gujarati-dominated housing societies in Mumbai. This social media campaign has polarised the Marathi manoos," said advocate Mahendra Sandhansiv, who is also a social media observer.
He added that the Sena is trying to play the regional card to consolidate its vote banks. "As part of its game plan, anti-Modi morphed photos and texts have been circulated. It has distorted Modi's image during the last five days. In one post, the BJP is dividing Maharashtra in three parts, where union minister Nitin Gadkari is carrying away Vidharbha, while Amit Shah is taking away Mumbai and joining it with Gujarat. Sena, as a political party, thrives on emotions and aspirations rather than development agenda. Earlier, they were against South Indians, then North Indians and now it has turned its campaign against Gujaratis and Modi," said Sandhanshiv.
Where did BJP fall behind?
Harshap Praddhan, the Sena's communications chief told dna that on social media, he himself has connected with six lakh people. "We promptly upload Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's speeches from various rallies. Our social media campaign is very live, positive and productive. People love to read and forward it. We are receiving huge response. During Lok Sabha, BJP was really effective on social media. But in state polls, its strategy failed by divorcing the Sena. Whatever campaign they launched on television – Kute Nevun Tevala Maharashtra (Where has Congress-NCP taken Maharashtra?), it became the butt of jokes among people. Maharashtrians will not be fooled by the false promises of BJP," said Pradhan.
Pradhan added that during the Lok Sabha polls, when Indian soldiers' heads were cut off by Pakistani soldiers, Modi had said that once he comes in power, he would give a fitting reply. "Now he is prime minister, but our soldiers are still killed while we are sending them sweets. For last five days, they have locked the prime minister's office because the PM is busy campaigning. The government and the country cannot be run this way," said Pradhan.
Is the anti-BJP campaign benefiting NCP?
Supriya Sule, NCP leader and member of parliament told dna that they were new to social media during the Lok Sabha elections. "Now we are also learning and using it effectively to project our development work done in the last 15 years. Social media is very important that no one can ignored. It is an effective tool to communicate with people," said Sule.
Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson, said that the regional parties are important for the development of states. "People were fooled in Lok Sabha polls. Now, they realised that they made a mistake by voting for BJP because the inflation is still there, drug prices have gone up and farmers are not getting good rates for their crops. So the anti-BJP campaign will benefit regional parties and we are one of the prominent gainers," said Malik.
We'll be back with a bang: BJP
Madhav Bhandari, BJP spokesperson, admitted that their campaign was not as aggressive as it was during the Lok Sabha polls. "It is because in state polls, the BJP is fighting alone and other political parties are also involved. Therefore our social media campaign might be looking weak. During Lok Sabha polls, many non-BJP activists were also involved in campaigning and they were doing on their own. It was a mission. But we are improving now and in the coming days, we will be more aggressive," said Bhandari.