According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IRIS Knowledge Foundation, in 2014 general elections, Facebook and other social sites would be a critical tool which could influence people’s voting choices in around 160 constituencies. This research is based on the assertion on the grounds of a young demographic; the upsurge of popular protests (Anna’s movement, Protests after Delhi rape case) and citizen activism in the past few years — often organized digitally on social media sites; and growing urbanization.
In this report, they have concluded that it is not the number of likes and tweets that are going to determine the probability of winning of a certain candidate but the ability of a candidate to engage with the electorate, by rising above the media clutter, and by trying to get his or her message across to the voter directly.
The fact of the matter is that no one can deny the importance of internet and social media in this information age, neither Congress nor BJP. The recent PappuCII vs. Pheku hashtag war on twitter is the clear proof that none of the two national parties wants to ignore the relevance of social media in the forthcoming general elections.
Whenever our two prime ministers in waiting, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi deliver any speech or release any public statement, they start trending on Twitter. Twitterati love to discuss their speeches and policies.
Rahul Gandhi’s address at CII led to trending of pappu, pappucii. The tweets started pouring from even before Rahul started speaking at CII. Reuters explained the pappu as ‘the top trending topic on Twitter in India while Gandhi was speaking was #PappuCII. Pappu is a derogatory colloquial Hindi word meaning "dumb kid"’, was further retweeted by users. His comments ‘I’ve lost it’ and ‘Boss, not happening’ gave fodder to all his critics. So Rahul Gandhi was badly ridiculed and mocked on Twitter.
Similar thing happened when Narendra Modi started to speak at FICCI Ladies Organisation. Congress supporters tried to trend Feku. Even journalists and reporters present at the venue, listening to Modi started tweeting with the term Feku to get a retweet or a mention. After that event, Modi has already delivered three speeches and every time he spoke, Feku was also trending. However, Feku hashtag was proved fatal for Congress in the end and it completely boomeranged on them. The pro-Modi and pro-BJP netizens quickly latched on to # Feku posting comments mocking Rahul Gandhi. SanghParivar.Org posted "#FeKu’s list of achievements till date: http://RahulGandhiAchievements.Com | a BLANK page". An avid twitterati Kartik Dayanand had a piece of advice " Lesson for Social Media teams, never create generic hashtags, now see what happened… #Feku has been hijacked by NaMo’s team."
Now let’s see the current status of Congress and BJP on different social sites and internet.
If I search bjp facebook on Google, I can easily find the official Facebook page of BJP, https://www.facebook.com/BJP4India. This page has more than 8 lakh followers. If I do the same exercise for Congress, I land of the Facebook page of Congress, https://www.facebook.com/congressparty.in. It has only 3000+ fans. I don’t think it is official Facebook page of Congress. To be precise, Congress party does not have any official Facebook page. Same is true to for Twitter and YouTube also. Congress is nowhere in picture.
Let’s do something interesting, search Rahul Gandhi on YouTube. You will get this video on the top,
If you carefully analyze this video, you will find:
1. Congress Party uploaded this video.
2. Party has intentionally disabled the comments and like/dislike button for this video.
In case of Narendra Modi, the top video is
It has been uploaded by Narendra Modi’s internet wing. It has mostly positive comments and likes.
In one line, I can sum up and say BJP is way ahead of Congress on internet.