KOLKATA: With the Assembly election in West Bengal drawing near, the political parties have extended their fight into the cyber space swearing by the revolutionary impact of the social media.
In a bid to reach out to the Gen-x, the Trinamool Congress, the CPI-M, the Congress and the BJP have come up with innovative ideas to make their presence felt in the digital space through their top leaders.
Topping the chart is the Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is not only a regular user of Facebook and Twitter, but is also the most popular face there.
Banerjee's Facebook page is being liked by near about 16 lakh people and her Twitter handle Mamata Banerjee@Mamataofficial has more than 2.6 lakh followers.
"Trinamool Congress has been very active on social media with a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
It has given us a huge window to share with all of you our thoughts, achievements and concerns."
"I hope you too must have had a great experience staying in touch with us through the digital world," Banerjee had recently said in a Facebook Post.
TMC's national spokesperson Derek O'Brien, who is one of the active on social media, said it was easy to create a communication campaign if someone had a good development track record in the last 4-5 years.
"Mamatadi is a mass leader and she from the very beginning had gauged the importance of social media - be it Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or WhatsApp. Even if she conducts a rally with two lakh people she believes in posting a Facebook message or a tweet," Brien, who himself has more than six lakh followers in Twitter, said.
Brien said that apart from regular Facebook and Twitter posts, the party from next week would use YouTube and other platforms as well.
"We will have small audio visual capsules which will be there in television channels and YouTube. We will use all forms of social media to reach out to the masses and propagate the developmental work," Brien said.
Several songs sung by renowned singers lauding the achievements of the TMC regime will also be made online in days to come.
In a watershed election, which will witness the Left Front-Congress combine taking on the ruling Trinamool Congress, will start from April 4 and end on May 5.
The CPI-M, which was once vehemently against the introduction of computers in India on the ground that it would mean loss of jobs for the working class, is also using the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter in order to reach out to the young voters.
Front-ranking CPI-M leaders like politburo member and state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra, CPI-M MP and politburo member Mohammed Salim, prominent face Sujan Chakraborty, youth leader Ritabrata Banerjee are regular users of Facebook and Twitter.
"Facebook and Twitter have a democratic space where you can place your views within a few seconds and can reach lakhs of people within a minute. At times media houses are driven by their own policies, but in social media you are your boss, you can place your views, participate in a debate," CPI-M state secretariat member Sridip Bhattacharya, who is in charge of the social media segment of the CPI-M, told PTI.
The CPI-M on its official Twitter handle "CPI(M)speaks" and Facebook page on a regular basis are uploading pics and posters of candidates who are contesting the elections.
Senior Congress leaders like Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Omprakash Mishra too are regular on Facebook.
The BJP, on the other hand, though lacking in the organizational strength, has pulled out all stops to reach the masses through the digital media.
"Near about 70 lakh people have smartphones. More than one crore people in Bengal use one or the other form of social media, be it Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter. So we can easily send out our message to the masses through them," BJP media in charge Krishanu Mitra told PTI.
BJP has also brought in Niraj Gaur in Bengal who had played a vital role in helping the BJP win in Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP state unit has formed a separate Media and IT cell, complete with a call centre. The network will also allow leaders to talk directly to booth workers as well as whole-timers.
"The social media campaign has helped us in the last few months. Through small videos and messages we have been able to reach out to lakhs of people and inform them about incidents which local media has completely blacked out," Mitra said.