Indian Politicians Use Social Media to Reach Voters

Fri 29 March 2013 12:00, Seema Sanghavi

Indian Politicians in the state of Maharashtra seem to be more active on social media these days. According to Yahoo Small Business, 2014 is going to be a crucial year for political parties all over the country. With 50 percent of the voters being under 35 and close to 40 percent living in urban areas, it has been perceived that regional political parties of Maharashtra have recently rushed to expand their social media presence to help reach out to these voters. Some digital experts in India do not agree with this approach.

Indian Politicians Use Social Media to Reach Voters

According to The Economic Times India, regional parties in the state of Maharashtra have recently taken the lead in launching their accounts on various social media platforms in hopes to reach voters for the 2014 polls. The Shiv Sena, NCP and MNS parties have recently reached out to voters through Facebook and Twitter and claim that the response has been encouraging. Anil Shidore, General Secretary of the MNSparty, reportedly stated that “youngsters are hooked on to Twitter and Facebook and we get a lot of response from them and they give suggestions and even negative feedback.” Further reported in The Times is that the country’s Congress is also looking at social media. A spokesperson of Congress in Maharashtra reportedly stated "The social media factor was discussed in the Jaipur chintan shivir of the party. The Congress has launched some portals and is in the process of upgrading them. Now, we are in the process of launching an account for the state party unit which will be linked to YouTube."

To help get a better of idea of the situation, in an article on Exchange4Media.com, digital experts in India were asked to weigh in. According to Sabyasachi Mitter of Interface Business Solutions, this is a good move in principle but the timing is risky since the 2014 elections are not too far ahead. Mitter explained that if the public feels they are not being heard, politicians could lose credibility. Ansoo Gupta from Pinstorm stated that this move will only work when the Indian government is able to act promptly on matters. However, both Vineet Rajan of IndiBlogger and Harshil Karia, Co-Founder of FoxyMoron, believe being active on social media is a good move for the parties. Rajan explains that this solves the common man’s problem of not having access to a forum to express their opinion. Karia believes that this is a great move for Indian democracy since it is moving towards more transparency.

Social%20media%20politics

According to Yahoo Small Business, the Indian political parties are using social media to target voters and to post their mandates. In the article, the author compares this approach to that of the 1990s mindset when everyone wanted to have a website and be online. The article states that today the same motive has moved to social media and that the problem is that these moves lack intent and objective.

In my opinion, it’s hard to say whether the politician in Maharashtra have it right or not. Definitely being on platforms where your voters are is not a bad idea. The turnout rests on what online strategies the parties have. Given that this is a newer approach for Indian political parties, it is my opinion that we will see some doing it well and succeeding while other may struggle. How do you think the Indian public will react?

Sources:
smallbusiness.yahoo.com
articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com
www.exchange4media.com

Images:
http://teznews.com/home/news/9817
http://mashable.com/2012/10/02/voter-suppression-social-media/


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