THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Now, trolls, which usually beget a few laughs, assume toxic overtones during poll campaign when they are deployed with deadly effect to tear into political adversaries.
However, the torrent of negative publicity can indeed work to the advantage of those targeted as revealed in the case of Kummanam Rajaseskharan, the NDA candidate in the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram seat.
Kummanam along with Alphons Kannanthanam and Suresh Gopi, NDA Ernakulam and Thrissur candidates, respectively is among the most trolled candidates on social media ever since LS polls were announced on March 10. The former BJP state chief, who quit as Mizoram Governor to contest the polls from Thiruvananthapuram, has seen his popularity surge and his political stock rise, thanks to the relentless lampooning carried out on social media.
Social media observer Favour Francis said trolling had a good and bad effect.
“Its chief advantage is it makes a lesser-known leader popular. The disadvantage is, at times, continuous campaigning depicting a leader in poor light often affects the latter’s reputation,” he said.
“An analysis of current social media trends shows he is likely to get more votes this election as he has become more popular. The frenzied trolling has also created sympathy for him to some extent,” according to Francis.
An analysis of the trolling trends reveals it is the BJP-led NDA which has been targeted the most followed by the Congress and CPM. Besides Kannanthanam, Kummanam and Suresh Gopi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and M K Raghavan as well CPM candidates P Jayarajan and Innocent were among those targeted. On the flip side, Alphons Kannanthanam’s image took a major beating when he was ridiculed online over his purported goof-up in soliciting votes (this is not your constituency campaign).
CPM-Congress’ stance sparks confusion
The different political stand taken by the CPM and Congress in Kerala and outside the state has seemingly confused trollers.
Digital media consultant Nanda Kishore said troll culture can influence some people.
“We believe trolls have the potential to influence 5-6 per cent votes as there is over 70 per cent smartphone penetration in Kerala.”
“The successful troll will often be created by a third person. The digital cells of parties counter and blunt the Opposition attack by generating content and circulating them through various means,” according to Nanda Kishore.