KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are set to engage in a cyber war in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections next year and the West Bengal elections in 2021. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and TMC Youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee, at a ‘Digital Conclave’ held recently, called for recruitment of 30,000 ‘cyber sainiks’ in the 294 Assembly constituencies to take on the BJP IT Cell in the run up to the crucial Lok Sabha elections next year.
Even as Mamata is expected to be a key player in the anti-BJP ‘Federal Front’ but at the same time face the tough competition to be posed by BJP at home turf West Bengal.
“I want 100 ‘cyber sainiks’ in each of the 294 Assembly segments of the state. I want these 30,000 ‘cyber sainiks’ to wage a war against BJP’s vindictive politics,” Abhishek said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself called for a competition among the Trinamool cyber warriors and promised them rewards.
“I want the cyber warriors to respond to the malicious attempts of BJP IT Cell in not only Bangla but also in Hindi for a wider reach. There will be competition among the cyber warriors in each of the 23 districts of the state to counter the BJP with facts and figures highlighting the achievements of the state government and busting their fake news,” she said.
The TMC supremo also wanted the cyber warriors to influence people who have quit TMC to return to the party with a target for each person to bring at least two people back to the party every week.
She also warned them to maintain decorum while countering the BJP on social media. “Do not use foul language. Be careful with words. Being abusive is not our culture. Consider your mobile phones as your weapons to counter the BJP.”
On the other hand, BJP president Amit Shah, during his recent visit to the state, had met the members of BJP IT Cell and Intellectual Cell and asked them to double efforts to take on the ruling government.
“With TMC’s attempts to widen the role of social media in the polls, BJP might focus more on the local IT cell members and depend lesser on Delhi-based IT Cell headquarters, whose rhetorics are becoming more repetitive such as ‘Hindus being in danger in Bengal’ and ‘demographic change caused by Bangladeshi Muslims’. So, slowly now we are seeing more memes on bridge collapses and bomb explosions in TMC offices, all in local language Bengali,” political observer Diptendu Ghosh said.
Explaining the social media war, a BJP worker said: “Social media wars are fast changing and very contextual in nature. While political violence, unemployment and minority appeasement policies of Mamata Banerjee are always contextual, massive failures such as bridge collapses need special attention.”
The West Bengal chief minister has always blamed the BJP for fomenting several communal riots in the eastern state over the past two years through incitement of violence over social media.
But nearing of elections might lead to focus more on issues that have hit a large section of the population.
“With Mamata Banerjee attempting to bring in Bengali identity against Hindutva, the same might be focused upon by the cyber warriors as well. TMC is also likely to hit out at the BJP over demonetisation, fuel price rise, Rafael and other policies of the BJP government,” political observer Tarak Ghosh said.