Now, Congress bets big on social media platforms
It seems that the micro-bloggers are setting the pace for the 2014 macro-battle.
With the Congress and the BJP boasting about their following on Twitter, the art of expressing strong views using a few words has become a prized quality for a politician who wants to make a mark in the next Lok Sabha.
Both the parties are holding workshops for their warriors to better equip them with 140 character verbal bullet and the entire social media is being co-opted in this proxy war between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has created three departments and a web-portal to provide better connectivity in the virtual world. As the Twitter-inspired controversies on IM, Amartya Sen-Bharat Ratna, Batla House encounter and the poverty figures show, the agenda of the big fight is being decided on Twitter and by the blog-sports.
Well aware that Twitter following might not convert into votes or, create views in favour of its policy initiatives, the Congress has widened the sphere of operation by launching a web-portal called Khidkee and a bulk message service called Samparak. So that the social networking tools - Twitter, blogs, Facebook, bulk-SMS and WhatsApp could be used as force multipliers.
The party has asked its national and state-level spokespersons to submit their Twitter handles to the AICC department, headed by young MP Deependra Hooda, overseeing its social networking activities. The move is intended to keep a watch on whether they were going astray or strictly following the party line and could be re-Tweeted.
Booklets on ‘Khidkee’ and ‘Samparak’ have been distributed among them to familiarise them with how to use the services, so that there could be no complaints.
Interestingly, ‘Khidkee’ is being used as an internal communication platform for the party, which till now was operating as an opaque political enterprise. In the next two days, all AICC office-bearers, spokespersons, PCC units would be provided with a ‘password’ to log into ‘Khidkee’ where they could communicate not just with each other but also with Rahul Gandhi. Along with the passaword, Congress leaders and officer-bearers would be given an official e-mail id, through which they could send internal mail, both confidential and open.
“We’re also moving towards a paperless office with better communication network,” Deependra said.
On ‘Khidkee’, a Congress worker or a party unit in Kerala or Tamil Nadu would come to know what’s happening in Delhi; have discussions or chats; could upload picture from remote parts of the country; get information or access research material on the party’s flag-ship programmes; et el. In short, there would be quick dissemination of information. With the Congress Working Committee meeting rather rarely, how will the party line be decided? Here, the role of the new communication head, Ajay Maken, becomes crucial. He has been drafted into Rahul Gandhi-headed election campaign committee so that he’s in the loop and knows what happening at the Congress war-room, where the party heavyweights drop in to decide and debate on the future course of action. In another initiative, Hooda’s team is building up a network of foot-soldiers with help of IT professionals.
The exercise is not just confined to AICC headquarters alone, all PCCs have been asked to set up IT teams, who would monitor and expand the Congress footfall in the social media across the country.