THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Digital campaigning through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and online videos is redefining the Lok Sabha polls. The ‘Troll Me Challenge’ thrown by BJP candidate in Ernakulam Alphons Kannanthanam is the latest in the digital campaign war. The minister, who is a favourite subject for social media trollers, is attempting to turn adversity into advantage, it seems.
Shashi Tharoor MP who faces a tough triangular fight in the Thiruvananthapuram seat, focuses much on WhatsApp to reach the last mile. This is in addition to the campaign trail and other posts on his Facebook page having 26 lakh ‘likes’ and Twitter account with 2.3 million followers.
Tharoor is also among the candidates who use WhatsApp and Facebook to counter the allegations raised against him by opponents. One of them was the controversy over an extract from his 1989 book ‘The Great Indian Novel’, which was portrayed as defamatory to Nair women. He also spreads contents exposing the BJP’s double stand on the Sabarimala issue. The Congress, the CPM and the BJP have digital war rooms where professionals use the official handles to spread their propaganda.
For days, the ‘INC Kerala’ FB page of the Congress ran a campaign on the floods stressing it was man-made. The CPM countered this with success stories of farmers who had a good harvest after the floods.
Anil Antony, convenor of the digital media cell of the Congress, said social media helps parties lure youngsters who would be decisive in this elections. “During the past elections, the winning majority was about 50,000 in 13 constituencies. New voters in each constituency range between 1.25 - 1.75 lakh,” Anil said. Interactive and engaging content will be the future of digital politics according to him.
Sivadas who heads the LDF war room, said their major task was to expose the fake news spread by the Sangh Parivar and the Congress. Facebook is the most popular social media platform and hence more focus is given to FB campaigns, he said. “Luckily, gone are the days when people blindly believed social media forwards. Otherwise, we would have had a tough time exposing them,” he said. Cinematic posters and trailer-model clips of candidates were novel attempts in this election which received attention.