The power of a Tweet, a Facebook post, a WhatsApp forward, and a blog is undeniable. It has galvanised populations, triggered protests and in some cases, uprooted political establishments.
Remember the India Against Corruption campaign, which gained momentum on social media and formed a vast network of young supporters? Ever since, Indian politicians have come to acknowledge social media and how greatly it influences millennials’ decisions. Today, they’re using it more actively than ever before.
Let’s take a look at how our netas are making the most of social media:
Bridging the Communication Gap
With social media tools, politicians are now able to directly interact with their potential voters. This means — no more relying on traditional media for making public statements. Their thoughts, opinions, and actions are one Tweet away.
Ministers like Sushma Swaraj and Suresh Prabhu are known to have actively responded to people’s complaints on Twitter, and have also gone ahead and resolved their problems (how cool it that?). In fact, Sushma Swaraj has used Twitter to troubleshoot several issues posted by social media users, and recently helped out a Pakistan citizen too. Clearly, such incidents have received a lot of press in the last few years.
The PM on Social Media
Our very own Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his love for social media. In the past year alone, Narendra Modi’s followers grew by a whopping 52% on Twitter. He is also the most followed personality on the micro-blogging website. Need we say more?
Election War Rooms
Social media platforms have become election war rooms, as election campaigns are fought on social networking sites as furiously as on the ground! Organised IT cells are a new trend in almost every major political party.
During the UP Assembly Elections of 2016, the BJP IT cell worked round the clock — reaching out to people through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Surely, it contributed to BPJ’s victory.
A 25-year-old anonymous Congress party worker also shared that his party has been working hard to up its social media game and take on the BJP.
Love It or Hate It: You Can’t Ignore It
Social media for politicians signifies the proverbial shaadi ka laddoo — love it, hate it, but you simply can’t ignore it. Many a time, one wrong Tweet by an influential leader creates a storm, sending the entire party in a tizzy!
Take for instance this Tweet by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who made a distasteful comment on Miss World Manushi Chhillar’s name:
What a mistake to demonetise our currency! BJP should have realised that Indian cash dominates the globe: look, even our Chhillar has become Miss World!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 19, 2017
This made him the centre of controversy with people criticising him, and BJP ministers claiming that his comment hurt the sentiments of the people of Haryana.
At the same time, there are internet trolls, who can make life hell for anyone. Our politicians, much like any other famous personality on social media, simply have to roll with it! Leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar and many others, who did not show much enthusiasm for social media in the beginning, have now hopped on the wagon.
Digital is the future, and for a young country like India, this future is not too distant. More and more people are consuming the news online and sharing their thoughts on public platforms. And so, social media as a political tool cannot be ignored.
“Social media has redefined freedom of speech. Youth like myself can now openly share their thoughts and be heard at the same time. Yes, there are threats and restrictions involved. But so far, it has worked in favour of the people,” says 28-year-old Ravi Kumar from Gwalior.
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Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar
Namit is a journalist and adventure sports enthusiast. He divides his time in reading about interesting issues and later writing about them. In his free time, he is most expected to escape to the mountains in search of solitude.