The micro-bloggers are setting the pace of the macro-battle for 2014. With the Congress and the BJP obsessing about each other’s following on Twitter, the art of expressing strong views within a few words are a prized quality for a politician wanting to make a mark in the next Lok Sabha elections. Both sides are holding workshops for their warriors to be better equipped 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.
Aware that Twitter can make heroes out of individual leaders and their following may not convert into votes or following for the Congress party or create views in favour of the its policy initiatives, the Congress has extended the sphere of operation. Not just by launching a web-portal, called Khidkee, but has also a bulk message service, called Samparak.
So that the social networking tools—Twitter, blogs, Facebook, bulk SMS and WhatsApp—can be used as force multipliers, the national and the state-level Congress spokespersons have been drafted in. All of them have been made to submit their Twitter handles to the AICC department overseeing the party’s social networking, headed by young MP Deepender Hooda. This is to keep a watch on whether they are going astray or strictly following the party line and can be retweeted.
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, that is by the beginning of next week, all AICC office-bearers, spokespersons and PCC units will be given ‘password’ to enter the Khidkee, whereby they can communicate not just with each other but also with Rahul. Along with a password, Congress leaders will be given official e-mail id—aicc.com—through which they send internal mail, both confidential and open. “We’re also moving towards a paperless office with better communication network,” Hooda said.
With the Congress Working Committee meeting rather rarely, how will the party line be decided? The answer: the new communication head, Ajay Maken, has been drafted into Rahul-headed election campaign committee so that he’s in the loop and knows what is happening at the Congress war-room where the party heavyweights drop in to decide and debate on the future course of action.
- The Sunday Standard